Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 97,025,825 Issue: 191 | 21st day of Hunting, Y7
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by shadowcristal


"Hey, Charlie! Stop staring and help us with the crops!" the old farmer yelled at me. I sighed and turned my head around, facing the golden sun.

     "Still worried about your pretty sis?" one of the younger farmers asked, winking. I didn't reply. He was the biggest tattle-mouth in town, even worse than those old ladies who would gossip over a cup of tea on Saturdays.

     I sighed, sneaking a look at the forest now and then when the farmers didn't pay attention to me. Even though I wished to deny it, they were right. All of those spiteful, cackling youngsters were right. I was worried.

     It was Eupheria's first trip outside our village. My dear Zafara sister, the only family member that I had in this world. The elders had sent her to get water from a well that lied deep in the forests. How could I not be worried about her?

     A smack in on my sensitive Eyrie ears reminded me that I had to get going. I cut the plants methodically and applied the principle of hard work. It paid off. Finally, after an hour of work or so, I managed to persuade the farmers to let me go and check up on my sister.

     I ran towards the dark forest, hoping that Eupheria would be all right. Old Nana used to tell scary stories about the horrors of this specific forest, but those fears were gone now. Instead, I was filled with joy at the fact that I would meet my sister soon.

     The deep green, thick branches of wintery trees hindered my view, but I brushed them away. With a few jumps, I skipped over a row of odd little stones that signaled that I had half the way left.

     All the skipping and jumping had made me tired. I started to walk slower, feeling an atmosphere of utter darkness. The joy diminished as I treaded on the dark ground. The closer I got to the well, the more depressed I felt. Far away, I could hear some cries of despair.

     Something was wrong. Even though the forest was depressing and dark, it wasn't this dark. I shuddered, suddenly remembering the ghosts that Nana had told us about. Then the worry about Eupheria bubbled inside me, and with a few darts I reached the well.

     I couldn't help but to notice the darkness around the well at first. Then I realized what was wrong. Eupheria! She wasn't here! The full horror of it all hit me when I walked closer and saw a bucket floating on the bottom of the well.

     Eupheria had been here, that was one thing for sure. But she wasn't here now and the bucket that she was supposed to bring water to us with was down in the well, out of anyone's reach. What had happened?

     Worried, I scanned the area. The only thing that I found was one of Eupheria's red ribbons. My sister enjoyed playing with her hair, and lately she had put all of her beautiful hair into two pigtails, which were held by two red ribbons.

     And then I lost it. The alarming feeling that had been slumbering in my chest now woke up. Panicked and frenzied, I ran through the forest, calling out Eupheria's name. The darkness surrounded me and seeped through my bones.

     Exhausted after all that work, I fell down not knowing where I was. Under a tree that looked suspiciously like a big statue of a Fir, I closed my eyes and tried to rest. The exercise should've made me sweaty, but instead I was filled with coldness. Tears ran down my face as I realized that I would probably never see Eupheria again. This mysterious disappearance... I embraced myself, crying out that beautiful name of my beloved sister once again. Right then, I would've given anything to have Eupheria back.


     It was years later that I realized what might have happened to Eupheria. The cries that I had heard before... Perhaps they were hers?

     No. I couldn't bear it. The tears came, and I took out a handkerchief to dry them up. A knock at the door made me quickly hide the hanky in one of the drawers of the big table that I was sitting at.

     "Hello sir," a young Ixi said when he opened the door. I knew that his name was Nixel and he was a little bit too curious for his own good.

     "Hello Nixel, what do you want?" I asked, knowing my duty. I stuffed the incident in the back of my mind, trying to ease the pain. It had happened so many years ago... No... Right now I had to focus on my duty, the one as the chairman of the Town Council.

     "I just wanted to report a sight, sir," Nixel said politely. "You see, yesterday I was at the edge of the town and playing in the forest when I saw a dark, cloaked thing that looked like a faerie and a ghost."

     "A ghost?" I asked, confused.

     "Yes, a ghost. It was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Then my common sense took over and I ran back home."

     "Ah... I see." Many scary and terrible things had walked the edges of our town before, but a ghost? Never. I'd have to check this out. Right now. With all my self-control, I said, "We will investigate this matter. You go home and rest."

     "Thanks," the Ixi said, breathing a sigh of relief.

     "Nixel," I called when he reached the door. "What did this ghost look like?" If I was going to check out a ghost, I would definitely have to know its outer appearance.

     "It was beautiful, ghastly glowing..." he whispered in awe.

     "Nixel!" I said sharply. "What species?"

     "Oh... You mean her? Well... I'm not sure," he scratched his head, "but I think it was a Zafara. And she looked young, all right."

     "Thank you," I managed to say before I practically slammed the door in the poor Ixi's face. A Zafara? In the same forest where Eupheria had disappeared?

     I remembered my cries of despair and opened the door again, letting the wind blow through my fur. I definitely had to check this out. If it was Eupheria...

     I gulped, grabbing a few extra hankies from the shelf just in case I would have to blow my nose. Then I strode through the town and to the forest, explaining to the curious villagers that I had to investigate a certain matter. They all smiled, nodded politely and waved at me with trust in their eyes.

     With a last, irresistible happy jump, I entered the forest. The chill enveloped me as I took some steps. That trust... It had been the same innocent trust that Eupheria had...

     Yes, I'd give anything to have her back with me again... I nabbed a hanky from my pocket and blew my nose. The past was the past, and the future was different. I walked deeper into the forest, trying to block out the scary sensations with my mind. Somehow, so many years later, Nana's horror stories still scared me.

     And then I saw it. That beautiful glow and the shadow behind... That wild, wind-blown fur and that light dress. The toes tapping impatiently and the single red ribbon holding up half of her hair... She looked lost, but not too worried.

     Sure enough, it was my sister. Eupheria was standing there, reaching her hand out to me, inviting me to take it and let me bring her home.

     The voice inside my head told me that this was impossible, that it wasn't Eupheria standing there and that it was all a trick. What if a villain had planned all this? Then I'd be risking myself, my village, the peace... everything!

     But I would've given anything to get Eupheria back. Now that she was standing here, like an ephemeral dream, and I had to grasp her before she passed away.

     My left paw moved forward, but my brain protested loudly. My paw hung in the air as I watched Eupheria, tapping her feet rhythmically.

     "You're throwing away everything that you had worked for," the voice inside my head told me. "Eupheria is gone. She can't possibly be back!"

     But I had wished for this so long... To see Eupheria again, to hug my sister and ask her to tell me everything... To see her gleaming, excited eyes, to watch her swift movements...

     I knew that I had everything to lose and nothing to gain. The town, the people... No. I closed my eyes, and again my heart fluttered like butterflies at the thought of seeing Eupheria. What would I do if she disappeared, like she had done that time? Then I would be crying my heart out, unable to do anything like last time.

     No... I had to take this chance, even if the danger of it all made my brain scream no. I opened my eyes, and saw Eupheria smiling at me. It was as if she already knew that I would make this decision. Stretching out her paw, my sister bent forward and those beautiful locks of hair tumbled down her face.

     I gulped, and reached out my paw. The second that I touched her, I knew. It was Eupheria, the real deal. Tears of joy ran down my eyes and blurred my vision as I reached out my other paw, intending to hug my sister.

     But I never got to do so. Just seconds after grasping Eupheria's paw, a cold hand grabbed my other hand. I hissed, blinking away the tears.

     I saw her. It was her, that hateful faerie who had ruined everything, rebelling against our good ruler Jerdana. It was her, that mesmerizing Dark Faerie who had already taken more than half of our world. It was her, the Darkest Faerie.

     And then it hit me. I realized the terrible deed that I had done. Just by grasping Eupheria's paw, I had given up everything. Her cruel red eyes saw through me, and I felt darkness fill me up within as I let out a soundless scream.

     Then I looked at Eupheria, who was still smiling. Why, why, why hadn't I noticed it before? The blue eyes that had looked at me with trust... No... They were red! Red, the same color of that awful faerie!

     She had won. The Darkest Faerie had tricked me, the most powerful pet in the Town, to give up our town. I had heard of how she had taken over all those places, but never had I thought that this would happen to me.

     Holding Eupheria's cold paw, I now fully understood what had happened on the fateful day, the day a part of my heart distanced itself and died.

     I looked back at the town, knowing that my sanity and conscience would soon be gone. The whole town had taken a glow, a glow of evil and darkness. It had turned into a ghost town, one of many ghost towns along the border where the war between the Darkest Faerie and Jerdana was fought.

     Then I turned around and took a look at my sister. Eupheria was motionless, but those red eyes glowed a little less evilly and I could distinguish a faint tone of blue in them. I had lost everything, in order to gain the thing that I had held closest to my heart. In one way, that wish, forgotten in the forest, had been granted.

     As I watched the town fade away, I grasped Eupheria's shoulder. Now that I had paid the price, I would never let go of my sister again. I hugged Eupheria tightly, just as I had wished.

     After all, I really had lost. But I had Eupheria, and that was good enough for me.

The End

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