Casting a Shadow: Part Three
The next day…
Asilvani arrived at the hotel room that morning, with her bag much more filled than usual. She scanned the room. Jimbigy had already left for her morning training with Edna. Asilvani sighed in relief. She opened up her bag. Inside were several Slippery Floor Potions, several Starlight Potions, a Turbo Flame Reflector and an Ultra Dark Reflectorb. All of which reflected or, in the case of the potions, completely negated Fire or Dark attacks. She had been at Kauvara’s Magic Shop and the Defence Magic store all day yesterday gathering up these items.
I’d suppose if worse comes to worse, I’m rather well prepared. I’m kind of disappointed that these two reflectors were the best I could buy, and both of them are fragile and were really cheap… Oh well, if something goes wrong, I’ll have these potions for backup.
She stuffed her blanket into her bag, covering the contents up so when Jimbigy returned, she wouldn’t see the battle items Asilvani had stocked up on.
I wonder when the time will come when I’ll need to use these, though…---
The next few days were roughly the same. Jimbigy left for Edna’s early in the morning, and when she came back, Jimbigy would show off what she had learned.
“Hey, Asilvani. Watch this.” Jimbigy turned on a lamp to project Asilvani’s shadow to the wall. Then, with a wave of her hand, the shadow began to move on its own.
Asilvani was impressed. “Hey, that’s pretty neat. What’s it good for?”
“It can actually reach out and grab items or smack people around. It’s good if you’re feeling lazy or need some backup in a fight.”
“Y’know, I think I’ve heard of Neopet shadows coming to life. One Neopet’s shadow turned out to be an utter kleptomaniac. I can’t remember if it belonged to an Eyrie or a Krawk.” Asilvani giggled.
“Ha, ha. Very funny.”
Sometimes Asilvani would tell Jimbigy stories about her adventures around Neopia. Asilvani had travelled across the world, and every other day she’d tell about a land that had crossed her mind.
“I was feeling bored one day, so one time I went to King Hagan and flat out said to his face, ‘Never trust a green Skeith.’ And you know what happened? He gave me his autobiography and a B! I don’t know if he mixed me up with the court jester, or he just wanted me out of the castle as soon as possible, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand that ‘wise old king.’” Asilvani shrugged.
“Well, it could have been worse.” Jimbigy snarked.
The two would chat and wander around the Haunted Woods until sunset. Asilvani noticed that even though the two would bicker from time to time, she could feel that Jimbigy was slowly warming up to her.
I sure hope I can get this over with soon… Asilvani thought, with a twinge of remorse.---
A week later…
“What do you mean, we have to go?!” Jimbigy growled.
“Relax, Jimbigy. I know you’re not done with your training, so we’re not leaving the Haunted Woods yet. We just have to leave Neovia. The hotel here isn’t as cheap as the Neolodge back at Neopia Central, so we can’t stay for much longer. Unless you want us to go broke and you won’t be able to afford ingredients for Edna. That is, if you actually were paying for them.” Asilvani gave a snarky smile.
That shut Jimbigy up. Haunter couldn't help but to giggle.
“Don’t worry, I know a friend who lives here. He’ll let us stay with him. I stayed with him the summer I spent here.” she explained.
“So, what’s his name?”
“His name is Frigidness. He lives on Dark Forest Path, which is closer to Edna’s Tower.”
Jimbigy sighed in relief. “Well, that’s good. It would save a bunch of time. I can’t just fly over there like you can, you know.”
Asilvani nodded. Jimbigy was the only one in the family that couldn’t fly, being a Krawk surrounded by a Hissi and two Draiks. “I know, I know. Moving on, I’ll tell you about they guy we’re staying with. He may look a little spooky at first glance, but I assure you, he’s a big sweetie.”
“You do realize you’re talking to a Wraith Neopet, do you? What could get spookier than that? What, is he an Awakened?”---
“Of course he’s a Zombie.” Jimbigy facepalmed. “So when are we going to wake up and find out our brains have been stolen?”
In a deeper part of the woods, they were at a little hut near a swamp - the owner of the house, despite being a zombie, was still a Kiko and needed to live by a body of water.
Frigidness had a confused look on his face.
“Oh quiet, you. Not all Zombie Neopets are like that. It’s just a common misconception. Again, I've stayed with him before. He's perfectly trustworthy.” Asilvani scolded. She turned to face her friend. “Hi, Frigidness. Mind if we stay a while?”
The Zombie Kiko shook his head. “Iiiit’sss perrrrfeeeectlyyy fiiiine.” he said, smiling. “Staaaaaayyyy asssss lonnnnnnggg asssss you liiiiiike.”
Asilvani beamed, while Haunter happily flew in circles around Frigidness. “Thank you so much. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated.”
The two went inside. Asilvani instantly reached into the closet and pulled out a sleeping bag. She fanned it out, sending dust everywhere, and causing the two to go into a coughing fit.
“Way to go, sis. Why’d you do that?!” Jimbigy yelled, between coughs.
“Sorry ‘bout that. Frigidness only has one guest bed, so I’ll take the bag. I guess it’s been in the closet for a while…” Asilvani replied, hacking.
“You couldn't have fanned it out outside?!”
“Iiiiiissss eeeeeveryyyyyythiiiing allllriiiiiight?” Frigidness called out, hearing the two coughing.
“Yeah, we're alright! Just got dust everywhere…” Asilvani responded.
The dust settled, and Asilvani rolled up the bag. “The guest bedroom’s down the hall, to the left. It's kinda small, but it's big enough for a Neopet to spend a while. When do you think you'll be done with your training?” Asilvani asked.
Jimbigy gave no response. She simply went over to the bedroom, eyes lowered.
“Why are you so concerned with your magic, anyway?” Asilvani asked.
Jimbigy stopped. She drooped her head, but refused to face Asilvani.
“... Because, until I met Jewel, my magic was all I had.”
“What… what do you mean?”
“You know that I've been a thief for a long time. It may be out of habit now, but before then, it wasn't out of greed. All the stuff I stole were for someone else or for my own survival. But the things I learned from the Faeries helped me escape every time.”
She chuckled softly to herself. “Sometimes I wonder if they would've given me their blessings if they had known I would use them for theft.
“I mean, who would actually help the scrawny little street rat that was known for getting in trouble? I was a little brat that was seen as just an annoyance. So one day, I thought… why not make myself seem like a threat? If they wouldn't pay attention to me before, they would if I became powerful.”
“So you were going to be a bully to get your way?” Asilvani frowned.
Jimbigy spun around to face Asilvani. Her eyes were narrow and her tone was becoming increasingly angry.
“I wasn't going to hurt anyone! I was just going to spook them. I was left to fend for myself since I was a young child; the least they could do was take me in instead of having me worry about if I was going to eat tonight or where I'd rest for the night! I actually lived in the Haunted Woods when I was little. You may see it as a daredevil's paradise, but for me, finding shelter every night was a matter of life or death!
“That isn't to say people didn't try to take me in. Oh, no. They never wanted to keep me, though. They would pamper me, letting me live it up for a while before they tried to bring in the authorities to get the thieving little squirt off the streets. After the third time, I learned that it was better not to trust anyone anymore. And yet, I still fell for a few Neopets’ tricks here and there.”
Jimbigy sighed and tried to cover her face with her hood.
“One, in particular, said she would teach me to use some real magic, rather than easy to use Faerie blessings. She actually did teach me how to harness the power of fire, but the most I could muster up was a wisp of flame. No matter how much I begged her to teach me something else, she refused to continue until I could materialize a fireball.
“And that wasn't all of it. She was hideously vain. She would spend almost all of her time gazing in the mirror or spending money on some jewel-encrusted dress every other week. And don't get me started on the makeup! She would use up an entire compact case in three days! And guess who had to go out and get replacements for her? She never intended to teach me magic, after all. No, she just wanted someone gullible enough to do all of her dirty work. She only taught me how to make that little spark to shut me up. Turns out that spell was only capable of creating that tiny fire. But I foolishly believed that she would teach me more.”
Asilvani was stunned. She thought for a moment. “How'd you even escape from the stores after a theft and gathered those supplies when you were little?” She wondered.
“You wanna know the truth?”
Jimbigy paused. She lowered her head, concealing her eyes with her hood. After a long pause, she spoke again, her voice barely above a whisper:
“I used to be a Shoyru. I was able to fly. Something you take for granted, I wish I could have the ability to do again.”
She sighed as she averted her gaze away from Asilvani, who was covering her mouth in shock.
“I mean, I'm used to being a Krawk. I've been one for long enough to know how to make a speedy getaway even without wings. But there are times where I just long for the sky again. I envy the Neopets of the sky. Especially Shoyrus… they remind me of what I used to be.”
“How'd you even get turned into a Krawk?” Asilvani asked.
“It was that Neopet that taught me how to use a real spell. One day, after she screamed at me for messing up her makeup, I was just in my room feeling bad for myself when I tried to summon a bigger fire than I normally could. I didn't, of course, but that day, something happened. I used to be a Halloween Shoyru, so wherever I went, I always wore a silly little costume. I normally had no issue with the flame, but this time it caught the suit on fire. Which spread to the room. Then it spread to the whole house. I tried to run away, but she caught me. I begged for my life, but she decided to mess with me one last time…
“The next thing I knew, I was in Brightvale for some reason. I think she wanted me as far away from her as possible, so she dumped me there. But I guess she was feeling really vindictive, so she left a Magical Plushie with me, so the magic would rub off and transform me. ...I was crushed. I was far away from home and I was stuck on the ground, possibly forever.
“I said I wouldn't trust anyone, but I guess I was desperate at that moment. That's when Jewel found me. She promised me a place to stay, and I took it. She actually meant it. She's probably the first one to actually show me kindness. But even then I was miserable; my thefts became habitual, and Jewel refused to teach me magic, even though she definitely knows how to. And old habits are hard to get rid of… Sometimes, I wonder if Jewel would get rid of me, even though I know she won't. But the past people I knew all betrayed me, so even if her offer to let me stay was genuine, I can't bring myself to believe it was true. I just-- I just couldn't handle it anymore. That's why I ran away to train my magic. So if the worst actually happens, I could fend for myself like I used to. I know I can come off as abrasive sometimes, but I really…”
She took in a deep breath.
“Look, I don't know why I told you all this. I guess… I guess I could say I actually trust you, Asilvani. You’re the only one who would really help me, even if I was really sarcastic towards you and even when I snapped at you whenever I was in a bad mood. I mean, you’ve been buying food for us and you’ve been helping us find places to stay even though it cost you a lot of NP. I… I really do think of you as my sister, Asilvani. Maybe I'll go back to Jewel someday if I can find it in myself to actually trust her, but you help give me faith in Neopians.”
She sighed, grasping her forehead. “It's been a long day. I'm going to bed. I'll see you after training tomorrow.”
She wearily dragged herself to the bedroom.
Asilvani stood there, feeling conflicted.
...What am I going to do?
To be continued…