Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 142,557,853 Issue: 289 | 27th day of Eating, Y9
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Once Upon a Time

by _sunset_phoenix


Once upon a time, the sky was blue and cloudless. A young blue Lupe lay on the grass of an endless field, staring peacefully up at the sky with the sun on her nose and the warm wind blowing. After a while, she closed her eyes. The sky watched her head roll to the side.


     Once upon a dream, when time did not exist but yet stretched on forever like a living animal, Anna the Lupe twitched in her sleep and woke up, bounding alertly to her feet. The green field around her darkened, as the sun sank behind the flat horizon. For a while, the field was motionless; in her dream-state, Anna dared not move, but whimpered in fear. She could see nothing, but the breeze rustled the grass stalks. Dark, dark, all was dark.

     Suddenly, Anna heard a cracking noise; she started fearfully and turned in the direction that sound came from. With amazing rapidity the moon swept into the middle of the sky, corn-yellow and round like a crystal ball. The moon was surrounded by a couple of scattered stars, as if they were her companions. Illuminated by moonlight, the cracking sound continued, yielding a little sapling; Anna padded spryly over to the sapling, which shot up and blossomed. On each branch sprouted tiny green leaves and thousands and thousands of perfect pink blossoms.

     In her dream, Anna was frightened. She padded guardedly around the young tree, feeling an electric spark of wariness shoot through her being. As if on guard, Anna’s coat stood up and her ears pricked for any sign of sound.

     Contrasting to its hurried rising of a few minutes ago, the moon was hovering, stationary, in the middle of the sky as if it were a luminous eye watching over Anna and the goings on below.

     The wind which had been blowing all night went round and round in circles, making sure that fresh, wet air reached Anna and the flowering tree, air like baby’s breath.

     And the ground, the ground was cool and smooth like a glassy pond.

     While Anna’s alertness did not lessen, she accepted the facts of her surroundings; she felt more secure, as if anything that she would encounter would be a benevolent force, one with enough power to ensure her guarded stance but which had no intent to harm. The only injury which a force like that might cause would be something bad which must happen in order to fix a wrong, as if the force were a fever which has to get worse before becoming well.

     Suddenly the moon dove down to the other edge of the horizon, trading its position for rest as the fiery sun came up. Anna cried out in shock, blinking her suddenly blinded eyes. Abruptly, she could feel a thousand shifts in the atmosphere around her; the wind became dry and hot, transferring heat, heat, and more heat to her so the sweat stood out on her coat and some petals wilted and fell off of her tree. Anna held her poise, tense and quivering, fear seeping into her body as sweat stood on her skin. For too long she stood like this, feeling the crazy twist in her stomach of a fever, and suddenly the heat became too much; Anna collapsed on the ground in a dead faint.


     She finally woke again as the blessed moon rose in the sky; softly and slowly so as not to chill her; the wind gradually dropped in temperature and gained moisture and a single cloud drifted lazily down to the ground to chain the area up in fog. The fog, in beads of water, clung to the blossoms on the pink-flowered tree and, as the moonbeams raced eagerly to the leaves of the tree, made the blossoms ripen and bulge, redden and round out, so that each blossom became a cheerful red apple, cast in a deep and rich maroon light in the night’s sanctuary of midnight serenity.

     Anna’s warning sense turned some hidden gear in her mind; she knew that the burning sun and the killing wind of the day would be around soon; with her mind she urged the moon to shine more strongly, the fog around her to thicken and cloud the tree with more droplets, and the wind to cool the fever in her brow before it had even begun.

     Too soon the moon disappeared; too soon came out the sun again beating down on the tree; heat fever dropped the apples from the tree and made Anna’s stomach become clammy and chilly so that as her furred skin baked, her blood chilled and her bones rattled, battling gain conquest over the Lupe’s body.

     This is still her dream.

     When again the moon did come its light was wavering. The wind was a little too cold and didn’t dispel the disquiet of the day as it should have. Anna stood there shivering, attention wavering between guarded alertness and unhappy awareness of the pit in her stomach. The fat apples dropped to the ground, but more naturally than they had in the day. The air was less moist and darker still; Anna couldn’t even see the grass by her feet as she padded round the tree.

     The day, when it came, made Anna’s stomach turn; she squeaked in discomfort before the sun even sped to the point of noon. She tried to claim the relative shade of the shadow of her tree, but it was too little a shadow, and the point where she was at was the only oasis in the field of grass, which during this day was yellow and crumbled to dust on contact, dust which might blow away into the distance with the wind.

     This is still her dream.

     At night as the cold moon jumped into the height of midnight, it was surrounded by clouds and as soon as the moon was in the place of honor snow fell from everywhere, from near and far. The ground was accepting of it, and pretty soon the entire field was covered in snow. The tree was covered in snow; all of the leaves had fallen off and none of the apples were left on its branches to brighten up the chalky pale landscape which Anna beheld. It was all snow, all white, or all air, all black. The falling snowflakes quite obscured the moon.

     This is still her dream.

     Anna’s ears were pricked up and her powerful legs almost quivered with anticipation; something important was going to happen for sure.

     A cloud passed directly over the moon, and all light was shut off. Slowly, too, the cold around Anna faded, gradually approaching equilibrium so that she felt nothing, saw nothing, was conscious of nothing but of her paws, firm on the ground.

     Slowly light spilled over a newly minted horizon line, not sunlight, but an aura of power. It was gold, and Anna could quite clearly see within it the outline of a figure in dark blue, blue like the blue of the sky at midnight. Anna’s senses tingled; the figure floated towards her on a feather of airy breeze, and with her came a scent like rainbows and moon dust and apple blossoms and the fiery power of Neopia’s sun.

     The Space Faerie lit down in front of Anna, not quite standing on the surface of the ground; still hovering.

     Anna gazed at her, speechless, surrounded by the scent of her being.

     The Space Faerie looked at Anna and spoke musically.

     “Space and time, Anna, go together. How can they not? I am the Space Faerie, but I am all alone. Time in Neopia is uncontrolled, unregulated by any known force. There must be a Time Faerie to work as my partner, to control the flow of time as I control and mold space, the essence of Neopia and everyone and everything inside of it. You’ve been subjected to the test of Four Seasons. While I controlled time, you worked with it and, though you may not believe it to be so, you made small adjustments using the power of your mind, in exactly the manner that must be taken when working with time. Can you become the Time Faerie?”

     Anna zoned out, thinking about what the Space Faerie had said. Unconsciously, her mind registered that time was not moving, that Anna was the only one who was moving through the seconds; the Space Faerie was motionless, a slight smile on her knowing face.

     And when Anna had made her decision, time unfroze. She looked the Space Faerie in the eye and told her yes.

     The dream faded, and Anna’s body uncurled from rest. Her eyes caught onto the motion of a single whirligig seed of a tree spinning in the wind; she reached out and caught it in her paw. Anna scuffed a small hole in the grass, dropping the seed into the hole. She gently patted more dirt over it again.

     Then, she rose sinuously up, bounded away through the waving grass, and leaped up, disappearing mid-leap through a hole in time.

     That part is not a dream.

The End

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