Shadowflame was a loner. She was a Battledome regular with
her Shoyru Sword strapped across her black back and other such weapons around
her body. Nobody really paid attention to her, unless they were Battledome fans
or Shoyru lovers. Unknown to anyone, including herself, she was also a hero.
Shadow, as she preferred to be called, was walking
through the Neopian Bazaar one crystal clear morning when she heard a scream.
"Help! Fire! My babies are trapped in my NeoHome!
Shadow jumped into the air and sped towards
the black smoke pouring out of a beautiful bamboo NeoHome. Garden gnomes lay
scattered on the green grass beside wilting dragonbuds as a lone girl shouted
for help. Shadow landed beside her and the girl sighed with relief.
A flare from the blaze cut the owner short.
Shadow grabbed her Shoyru grappling hook and fired it through a window.
"Please catch something, please catch something..."
she muttered under her breath.
The line went taught and pulled Shadow into
the inferno. She landed gracefully, the shattered glass making a distinct crunch
under her feet. The shadow Shoyru heard a pitiful mewling from the living room.
She coughed, her big blue eyes watering. They sounded like baby Lupes!!! Shadow
plunged into the fiery room and quickly located three small Lupes huddled together
beside a green Pteri which looked black for all the singes and burns. There
was a whistling from the room beside them and Shadow realized that it was the
fridge, and that the fire's heat must have made the gases expand and put pressure
on the pipes enough that they were about to...
"Come on!" she shouted, grabbing the babies
and the Pteri, "Let's get out of here!"
Shadow dove through the fire, the flames licking
her body as she landed in the bedroom in which she'd entered. The whistling
reached a fevered pitch as she threw the frightened and wounded pets through
BOOM! Shadow shot out of the house in a curled
up ball, her black skin scarred with burns from the exploding fridge. By now
a crowd had gathered around as the girl began asking, "Where's that Shoyru?
That black Shoyru? The one that saved my babies?"
Shadow shook her head and a locomotive blew
through it. She moaned, suddenly feeling the pain of the burns and cuts. She'd
been hit by a falling piece of bamboo and all sorts of debris.
"There she is miss!" shouted a man.
"OH!" exclaimed the girl suddenly seeing Shadow,
"Oh no! She's hurt! Get a doctor!"
The water Faerie appeared out of the small pond
in the yard, which had turn black and gooey from the ashes.
"So this is the brave hero everyone is suddenly
talking about?" she asked quietly.
"Yes ma'am," answered the girl, bowing in the
presence of a Faerie, "Could you please heal her?"
"Of course, but please stop your kneeling before
you get dirty."
The girl stood up instantly, "Yes ma'am."
"And stop with this silly 'ma'am' business. My name is Alura."
"Yes ma- er - Alura."
Alura spoke a few words quietly and Shadow's
burns began to disappear. The crowd slowly left as the smoldering wreckage of
the girl's house was cleaned up by Fire-Skeiths.
Shadow stood on wobbly knees as she thanked the
kind Faerie and the girl. "Thank you Alura, thank you- uh..."
"Call me Lily."
"Thank you Lily."
"No, thank you."
Alura suddenly smiled. "Your insurance company
will never believe this.
Shadowflame didn't like to brag, but she was an exceptional player at cheat.
Spectre the Jetsam had taken a liking to her and given her a personal pass to
a small private casino in the Haunted Woods, which was where she was headed
now. Her body, which was painted with a Shadow Paintbrush long ago when she
was born to parents long lost, cast a hazy sort of shade on the Flotsams and
dolphins who mingled playfully below.
Shadow landed on the only beach for miles around,
camouflaging into the mysterious black sand. The beach was deserted, and the
only company seemed to be the wind and weeds. The sand felt warm underfoot,
and Shadow laughed. She felt alive despite the gloominess around her. She felt
like zipping around. Enjoying the scenery. Shadow flinched. If she wanted scenery
she'd sure come to the wrong place. But she needed the favor. It couldn't wait.
Shadow leaped into the air and yelled in delight. A fresh wind had blown off
Maraqua, and Shadow loved flying more than anything.
"Yeah!" she shouted, soaring high.
The rest of the flight was uneventful, except
that she (using her color to blend in) scared the Pant Devil out of his mind
and handed a young Acara back her new bike.
"T-t-t-t-thanks," she sniffed quietly.
"Anytime," replied Shadow.
Haunted Woods was a dank area, and the same held
true for the town. Shadow was a well known character around there, and one of
the nicer ones as well. A mutant Blumaroo and a mutant Kacheek passed by Shadow
without noticing her.
"Hey Albert, who's the friend?" she asked stepping
from the shadow into a brighter patch of shadow.
Albert jumped. "This fellow I met in the bar.
He's in the same predicament I am, with a mean jerk like Esophagor telling us
to go find them food." He shuddered.
"What do you fellows need now?" inquired Shadow,
"I need an apple and he needs a jalapeno popper"
replied Albert hopefully.
Shadow pulled out both items from a pouch on
her belt and handed them to Albert, along with some jelly for each of them.
"Enjoy this you two. And make sure you eat that
jelly slowly. I doubt either of you has been able to enjoy much for a while!"
"Thank you!" Albert sobbed gratefully, "Thank
"Go you two! Quick!" exclaimed Shadow, "You can
make it in time to get a bonus if you hurry!"
The two ran off sobbing.
"Crass, where's Spectre?" Shadow questioned the
bartender as she entered the small casino.
"Ah, Shadowflame, so flippin' nice to-"
Shadow cut him off by grabbing the Krawk by the
collar of his stained white tuxedo. "Cut to the chase today, don't you?" she
hissed, suddenly angry. "Where's the Jetsam?"
"Well if you want a bally game of-"
"Listen you green lump of scum, WHERE IS SPECTRE?!"
Shadow's temper rose as she clenched the tuxedo.
"Well, you don't need to fly off the freakin'-
OW! Hey! That hurt!"
"I'll pop you a good one again if you're not
careful!" Shadow calmed down a bit, and smacked Crass again before dropping
the green Krawk on the floor.
Crass stood up and dusted himself off. "What
was all that for?"
"There was a fire yesterday. And unless you happen
to know a lot about our friend Balantorea the Pteri and why one of Sloth's soldiers
would be at the scene of a fire, you'd better get Spectre. I saw the silhouette
of a Grundo Commander. And one of the pets I rescued was Balantorea the famous
repairpet. He knows something Sloth wants. I want a favor from Spectre."
"He's... out," replied Crass hesitantly.
Shadow stopped suddenly. Crass was lying. She
could tell. But if she played along...
"In that case, Spectre owes me a petpet. Get
me a Doglefox."
Crass blanched. Shadow knew he had lied and had
decided to milk for all it was worth. He returned from the shed out back with
a small brown puppy that had a white stripe down its back.
"This flippin' piece of bally work is called
Akala," he told Shadow through a false smile.
"Ohhh... he's so cute!!!" cooed Shadow softly,
"And I won't be so lonely!"
Shadow took the Doglefox and left, flying towards
the Meridell Imperial Library, one of the things Darigan's forces didn't wreck.
Somehow, Shadow had a bad feeling about what she could have gotten into.
To be continued...