Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 145,521,815 Issue: 253 | 18th day of Hiding, Y8
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Dawn of Darkness: The Beginning

by arrielle5


They say that stories come to life for those who give them breath

And that their magic never disappears, even after death

Whether they are large or small, stories never truly end

Even this very tale of a lone Acara and her friend...


     The two, you see, a girl named Val and a boy named Tamren, weren't always friends to begin with. They met one day in Meridell, sometime in the Month of Hiding. Val, a radiant electric Acara, was sent out that evening by her mistress, Madame Rosette, to pick up a package from a dear old friend.

     "He lives on Scenic Drive," the Lenny had said with a huff, staring down at the servant girl disdainfully. "I mailed him the other day, so he should be expecting you. Just tell him I sent you and he'll give you the package. Even you can't mess this up!"

     With a bow of the head, Val rushed out of her mistress' quarters and onto the bustling streets of Meridell. Oh, what a glorious sight it was! The lovely scents, the friendly civilians, the tourists! Despite herself, she smiled and hurried down the path leading down from Madame Rosette's mansion. On through the streets, past the lovely shops and games, past the magnificent castle in which the King himself dwelled.

     It wasn't long until Val reached her destination, the street on which her mistress' friend lived. His name was Dr. Lessile, a rather profound yet boisterous young Lenny. When she found the Lenny's home, she raised a blue paw and knocked, straightening her maid's dress with the other. Some shuffling and scuttling about could be heard from inside, but finally Dr. Lessile poked out his red head.

     "Might I help you?" he asked quickly, staring at Val curiously. Val gave a short curtsy and nodded.

     "Yes sir, my mistress Madame Rosette sent me. She says you have a package for her."

     "Ah. Yes. The book, of course, of course! Wait here, miss."

     With that, he shut the door and disappeared back inside. Val waited patiently for him to return, wondering exactly what book Madame Rosette would want. The mistress wasn't one to read, really. She despised books of all kinds, unless they had money making tips or dealt with fashion in some way or the other. Dr. Lessile returned with a rather thick, book: Brightvale Castle. It was wrapped in brown packaging. He held it out for Val to take.

     "The book Rosette requested," he told her as she examined it. "In case you were wondering, which I know you are, it's for her cousin from Brightvale. She told me. Be sure to tell her to return it by the week after next, for it'll take a while for her cousin to read it all. Good day!"

     With that, he shut the door once more, leaving Val slightly stumped for a moment. After a moment of struggling to keep the book steady, Val headed back down the path. The journey back home might take a while anyway, so she decided to stop by and play a few rounds of Cheese Roller first. It wasn't often the Acara got time off to herself, and her mistress wouldn't find out.

     As she approached the looming hill, however, something else nearby caught her eye. Three children were harassing a young Darigan Eyrie, just out of view of others, hidden in the trees. The Eyrie could've fought back, but he was stuck in a cage, shrinking slightly from the taunts and jeers he received.

     "Go back to the Citadel where you belong!" one of the children, a red Zafara, snapped at him. The other two, a purple Kacheek and a fire Gelert, nodded in agreement, glaring down at him. Letting out a depressed sigh, Val made her way over to the children. The three of them looked up at her nervously.

     "Run along, now, and leave him alone!" Val told them gently, her expression scornful. The children obeyed without argument and ran off hastily. Setting down the book, Val walked over to the Eyrie's cage and looked him in the eye.

     "What's your name? Who did this to you?" she asked softly. "I know it couldn't have been those children."

     "M-my name's Tamren... I was sent down here as punishment by my master, and he left me here the other day..." he replied timidly.

     "What did you do?"

     "I... I don't want to talk about it..."

     "Alright, I won't make you."

     Silently, Val picked up a reasonably large rock and started pounding it on the cage's lock. It fell with a plop, making Tamren smile. She opened up the door and watched with joy as the Eyrie climbed out and stretched his legs and wings. Once he was done, he turned and bowed his head to Val and said, "Thank you! I owe you one! If there's anything I can do for you, just name it."

     Val thought for a second. Anything... With a smile she replied, "I have an idea that can benefit both of us. You have nowhere to go, and I've always wanted to travel... How would you like to come to Neopia Central with me?"

     At this, Tamren beamed, nodding his head several times.

     "Yes, yes! I would like that very much!"

     "Then I'll deliver my package first, and then we can head on out to Neopia Central."


     And so, the two friends set out that very night, Val on Tamren's back. Madame Rosette knew not of Val's departure, and Val wanted to keep it that way. The feeling of the cool, night air blowing against her face felt good, making her smile. She had never flown before, but the feeling was wonderful! The flight was short, however, but they didn't mind. The two arrived on the outskirts of town, near the coastline. A dock sat nearby, leading up to a path that ran through the Bazaar. Silently, they made their way into the Bazaar, eager to explore their new home.

     "I think we should stop here and take a break," Tamren suggested in a whisper as they neared an old, deserted building on the end of the street. The windows were boarded shut and large vines licked the sides of the building, entwining themselves with each other. It didn't look very promising, but it'd have to do. Tamren opened up the door for Val, ignoring the loud moan-like creak it gave as he pulled.

     Closing the door behind them, the two took a short tour around the building and discovered it some candles and matches on one of the dusty tables.

     "This used to be a library," Val whispered, lighting the candles. "You can tell from all the shelves. Look, over there, there's a large clearing."

     Indeed there was. The building looked a lot larger on the inside. The shelves loomed high over their heads, and just ahead of them they were set up in a way that they formed a large oval shaped clearing in the very heart of the library. The two decided to sleep there for the night. Tamren curled up like a tired baby Kougra, and Val rested her head on him like a pillow, setting a candle nearby.


     Over the next few days, the two worked on fixing up the library. Luckily for them, several books were still set on the shelves. In fact, just about everything a library needed was right there. Only one thing was missing: pets to check out the books. It didn't bother them, though. As they cleaned up the building, the two also took the time to read several books it contained, learning all they could about Neopia Central and the other worlds that lay out there.

     But soon one day, Tamren suggested an idea that Val found absolutely splendid: open up the library as their own.

     "That's perfect!" she exclaimed. "But of course, we'll need the government's permission."

     "Forget the permission," he told her with a smile. "The place was deserted and we found it, so technically we own the place."

     And even though Val wasn't all too comfortable with that particular concept, they opened up the library anyway. Val was in charge of checking out the books to other pets, keeping records on each and every one, while Tamren worked on cleaning up the place and placing the books on their proper shelves.

     Pretty soon, they grew so successful, that they found they needed to expand the library for more working space. Files became crowded and more and more pets wanted a place to hang out and read their favorite stories. Expanding the library wasn't an option, but a requirement. And so, Tamren set out to find a job, a well paying one, so he'd be able to raise enough money to keep the library running, and feed himself and Val as well. And everything worked out... for a while.

     Over a period of three years, as the two worked harder and harder, Val felt they were slowly drifting apart. Tamren spent more and more time at work, and lately he'd been staying out late doing "special tasks" as he called it. She was worried about him and their friendship.

     So one night, when Tamren had set out on another "special task," Val followed him out. She stayed a reasonable distance behind him, so he would not hear or see her. She followed him all the way to a clearing in the forest somewhere near the Wishing Well. Val hid herself in the trees and watched nervously as a starry Aisha and a Zafara as black as night emerged from the trees. They approached Tamren with smirks on their faces.

     Tamren bowed to the Zafara once they'd came to a halt.

     "You are ready for the next step in your training," the Zafara said to him, reaching for the Shadow Paint Brush the Aisha held out for him. "You are quiet talented in dark magic, Tamren. I made a mistake in sending you down to Meridell..."

     "Thank you, Master Ryo," Tamren replied. "I'm honored that you decided to give me another chance."

     "Yes, but you still aren't quiet there yet. Your Special Ceremony will begin next week on the same night. Now take this and repaint yourself."

     Val had heard enough. Quickly and silently, she darted off in the other direction, all the way back to the library which had become her and Tamren's home. Had he said Master Ryo? Had he said that his master had given him another chance? This was why he stayed out so late; he was back with the very pet who'd locked him up, training in dark magic. Tamren could be heard entering the library. He walked over to the clearing where he found Val curled up on the large, fluffy blanket they shared, sleeping like a baby.

     But even as the newly painted shadow Eyrie curled up next to her, he had no idea how much she really knew.


     Val never said anything to her friend about his new color over the next few days, and didn't intend to. He had approached her with a new idea for the library.

     "What if we enchanted the library?" he asked. "Make it so it could run on its own? That way we'd be able to have more time to ourselves."

     "I'm not sure..." Val replied. "We haven't any experience in magic..." She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, hoping she had him right where she wanted him.

     He smiled knowingly and said, "Actually, I've been practicing. I think I'd be able to do it."

     The two said nothing else about the matter. Tamren did eventually end up enchanting the library, so that it ran itself. The books could put themselves in place, the front desk could speak on its own, helping out those who asked it a question, and records could record themselves. It was perfect. And so, the two did spend more time to themselves.

     They ended up buying a house nearby the library. But sure enough, when Tamren's "Special Ceremony" approached, Val sat on the edge of her bed, waiting anxiously for... anything, really. Tamren was out late... again. But later than usual.

     There was a soft click as someone unlocked the front door downstairs. Tamren was home. Nervously, Val made her way downstairs to see what he was doing. But when she entered the hallway, Tamren turned quickly to face her, a dark look on his face. He glared at her and raised a paw which was now glowing with dark magic.

     "Stay where you are, Val," he told her coldly. The Acara froze, staring at her friend with horror.

     "Tamren, what are you doing?"

     "Completing my Special Ceremony... Don't give me that look! Like I didn't already know you followed me that night..." he told her quietly, smirking slightly. Val shook her head, backing up slightly.

     "But..." she whispered, "What is it you're supposed to do...?"

     "Kill a loved one, my dear," he laughed. "Someone close to me. Did you honestly think I'd really stick around to help you with that stupid library for all these years? Say goodbye."

     He shot out a jet of magic at her, but she dodged it. He shot it again, this time hitting her on the neck. Val fell to the ground, but quickly scrambled back up, making a run for the back door. Angered, Tamren flew after her. She quickly locked the door behind her and darted into the forest behind their home.

     "No..." she whispered sadly, a paw clutched to the spot where Tamren's magic had hit. "His home, now..."

     Val ran to the one place she'd thought she'd be safe: the library. At least she thought she'd be safe. The door burst open only moments after she had arrived. She didn't even have to turn around to know it was Tamren. Frightened, she ran further into the library, into a section she had never entered before. It was full of spell books of all kinds. That was it!

     As Tamren readied himself to perform another spell, Val quickly snatched up a book on light magic, flipping it open to a random page. Tamren sent out a bolt of magic once more, but at the same time, Val had read a random spell on the page, sending out magic of her own.

     A strange thing happened that night. The spells hit, sending out a blinding light. The two pets had to shield their eyes from the light. The light soon sent out jets of a combined magic, hitting several things including bookshelves, tables, windows... and Tamren.

     The Eyrie was struck hard by the jet, letting out a pained scream, but Val didn't see what happened next. Instead, she dropped to the ground and covered her head with both her paws until everything stopped. It became silent again...

     Slowly, Val looked up only to find that Tamren was gone. She rose to her feet and looked around. Even though the magic had struck many objects, everything still looked all right. Only when she bumped her foot on something before her did she realize what had happened. Val bent down to pick up the spell book she had used. She opened it up once more. Every page was blank. Only one page had something written on it, the very last page in the book. Sadly, Val read:

     this isn't over...

     Tamren was in the book. No... he was the book, now. Narrowing her eyes, Val silently made her way out of the library as if nothing happened, book clutched in her paws. There was a mark where Tamren's magic had struck her, and she placed a paw to it as she made her way back home.

     "No..." she whispered to herself. "No, something tells me this isn't over at all..."

The End


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