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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 112 > Continuing Series > Dark Flame: Part Four

Dark Flame: Part Four

by child_dragon

The Storm

It was almost dark by the time I headed home. The sky had deepened to inky blackness quickly, on account of the clouds that had rolled in. I watched the sky worriedly on the front of Sabreur's lawn.

     "You need a ride home?" he asked.

     "No, I think I can beat the weather."

     He shrugged.

     "Well, just be careful."

     I nodded and spread my wings. The storm shouldn't break until I got back.

     The wind was picking up as I flew. I was starting to think that this may have been a bad decision but pressed on. I was the Essence of Neopia, not much could hurt me. Then it started raining. The rain was icy cold, stinging on my bare skin. My clothing was soon soaked through. Then a flash of light illuminated the sky and I realized that I had better land. Now.

     I went into a straight dive and flared my wings only at the last minute to land safely. I could probably make it home via air but I really didn't feel like using my magic to protect me from lightning tonight. It didn't really matter… I was already soaked through. What was a little bit of a walk going to do now?

     I had almost reached my house when I caught a glimpse of orange out of the corner of my eye. I didn't pay much attention to it but hurried up the drive into my house.

     "MoonFall!" I called, "Could you get me some towels, please?"

     I heard her hooves clattering on the kitchen floor.

     "I'm kinda busy… Aldrai?"

     There was no reply.

     "Aldrai?" she tried again.

     I was silent. The orange outside… about the size of a Zafara. I sighed. What on earth was he doing?

     "Never mind. I think he's outside. I'll go after him."

     "What?!"

     I didn't reply to her but merely went back outside in the storm. Where was that Zafara? And what on Neopia was he doing?

     I was able to track pets through their elements. Each pet has a certain element which is strongest in them. It's linked to their personality. With Aldrai being such a powerful light element it was fairly easy to trace him through the night. I simply followed the thread of power he left. Soon I caught sight of him, standing alone on a grassy knoll near my house. The river flowed nearby, just down the hill. Lightning suddenly flashed overhead and suddenly I remembered exactly what this place was. All those years ago. Just Un-eairkagh and I.

     "Here!" he said, peering in.

     I looked down inside. There was nothing there, cept lots of water flowing towards the river. Part of the ditch had been washed away by the rain.

     "Oh, no. It's gone."

     "What!? For crying out loud, what is going on?"

     He sat down in the mud.

     "A Zafara. Real young. It was lying in the ditch, all bloody."

     He put his head down, and I think tears streaked his already wet feathers. I looked at the ditch.

     "The river," I said. "It might have gotten washed away into the river."

     Un-eairkagh leaped to his feet and bounded down in that direction. I followed, half running, half sliding on the muddy ground. We stopped short of the water's edge, and desperately scanned the water.

     "Might have gotten washed downstream. Com'n, I'm not giving up yet," I said, spreading my wings.

     We took flight and followed the river, searching for the Zafara. We were flying low, and it was difficult to stay aloft. Then Un-eairkagh shouted. I followed his gaze and saw a brief glimpse of red fur in the turbulent water. Then it was gone again.

     I shuddered at the memory. A storm. The river. What was he doing here?

     I walked closer to the Zafara. He sat with his back turned, near the very ditch I had found him.

     "Aldrai?" I said as I approached.

     "I thought… thought I felt something here," he whispered, "But there's no one here but us."

     "Yes, that's true. Com'n, lets go home."

     "But why am I being drawn here? I don't understand…"

     I searched my memory. No… today… couldn't be. I hadn't realized that. Nor had Aldrai, apparently. He was too young when it happened.

"Aldrai… this is… the anniversary of… that day…" I gently whispered.

     "But why am I being drawn here? My power, it calls."

     "I don't know. Let's go home, please? I don't like being here."

     Lightning flashed overhead and I absently glanced up. When I looked back Aldrai was gone. I panicked slightly and ran forwards. He was trotting down the hill, the same hill I ran down to the river. I followed him, taking care not to slide on the muddy bank. He was standing near the very edge, looking at the turbulent water. His eyes were glazed and I wondered what he was seeing.

     "Aldrai, please. Com'n, there's nothing here."

     "What was it like?" he marveled, "I remember seeing her. And the dagger, and the white Aisha. Then… cold and alone. Why'd you do it? Un-eairkagh says you were lucky to survive the river. Why'd you do it?"

     "Because I couldn't leave you."

     "You didn't even know me then. You could have died."

     "But I didn't."

     "You had your white Eyrie form then," he continued, "But it wasn't enough. You weren't strong enough to save us both. So why…?"

     "Why what?"

     "Why weren't you strong enough? Why aren't we all strong enough? We should be."

     He snarled softly.

     "Strong enough to do what? Protect ourselves and others? That's not possible Aldrai. The world isn't like that."

     "But if it was, there wouldn't be any more tragedies like that. No more."

     "Too many people would abuse that power. People aren't good-hearted like you and our family."

     "Yes… I'm good. You're good. But everyone else isn't… they should be. They should be."

     I was quiet, thinking. What had driven this need to come down here at this time, during this storm? I sighed and started to turn away, to head back to the house. Hopefully he'd follow.

     I never got the chance. The bank beneath me crumbled and I lost my footing, unable to grab hold of anything with hooves. I fell into the river with a yelp and immediately felt the current grab hold. But this time things were different.

     I gathered the power of water around me and gestured. The water stilled in an area directly around me. I managed to regain my footing and while holding the water still, climb out. Aldrai met me at the bank with amazement in his eyes.

     "See, you're the Essence!" he cried, "You have the power to save yourself now!"

     "I'd rather not have it," I replied, frowning at the river water now dripping off me.

     Not that it mattered much.

     "But you were given it! You should use it, just like you did just then! That's why I came down here, isn't it? My power… my talent… it should be used. See? Don't you see? Why else is there a storm this night, of all nights?"

     "I think you're reading into things too deeply," I replied.

     But Aldrai wasn't listening. His eyes were glistening with fever-madness. I could see the edges of them burning white, something that had never happened before when he used his power. It was then I started to truly worry.

     "Com'n Aldrai… let's just go home," I said, picking him up.

     I carried him home in my arms. The lighting flashed above us and the thunder rolled across the rain-swollen river.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Dark Flame: Part One

Dark Flame: Part Two

Dark Flame: Part Three

Dark Flame: Part Five

Dark Flame: Part Six

Dark Flame: Part Seven

Dark Flame: Part Eight

Dark Flame: Part Nine

Dark Flame: Part Ten

Dark Flame: Part Eleven

Dark Flame: Part Twelve

Dark Flame: Part Thirteen

Dark Flame: Part Fourteen

Dark Flame: Part Fifiteen

Dark Flame: Part Sixteen

Dark Flame: Part Seventeen

Dark Flame: Part Eighteen

Dark Flame: Part Nineteen

Dark Flame: Part Twenty

Dark Flame: Part Twenty One

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