A Change of Heart
"How much do you need, Advini?" a young woman asked her
pet, as she tied her hair up in a neat bun outside of the Trading Post.
"Whatever," Advini the Lupe replied bluntly.
"Well, um... how about 100k?" the owner prompted,
trying to get some feedback.
Her pet stared at her, his unfathomable features
cast in shadow. Slightly annoyed, she handed him the bag of Neopoints, and turned
to walk away.
After a few steps, she looked back at him, and
whispered, "Be safe." Then she guided her attention forward, and disappeared
into the crowd.
The shadow Lupe rolled his eyes. Kelly, his owner,
was always being protective. And she was always trying to start conversations.
He remembered a time when he had enjoyed that, but that was before he had gotten
painted shadow. Now, he just tried to ignore her.
He knew Kelly was worried for him. Any owner
would be; most shadow pets didn't eat much, play much, talk much, and, over
all, do much. But to him, it didn't matter. Somehow, nothing mattered anymore.
That was the way Advini liked it. No worries, no cares. Just me, myself,
and I, he thought.
Advini kicked at a pebble with his foot, wondering
what to do until Kelly came to get him. With each kick, he became more aggressive,
kicking the pebble harder and farther than the previous time. After watching
the pebble fly into the air and land about two yards away, he decided that it
was time to do something else, before the pebble hit someone.
Advini shuffled around, loitering at flashy displays,
until he came to a large crowd of people huddled around a trading table. Hoping
to find something to entertain him, Advini pushed past Neopets and owners until
he came to the front. On the table, surrounded by thick metal bars, sat a lone
petpet, its skin as black as his.
He turned his great, black eyes from person to
person, his eyes resting their gaze on Advini. The caged petpet looked up at
him, his eyes sad and begging. They looked like pools of void against his dark
fur, glistening in the noon day sun.
Advini directed his stare from the petpet to
the large gold Skeith behind the trading table. "What is it?" he asked, referring
to the petpet. Maybe he could buy the petpet for himself. As much as he liked
his privacy, he sometimes felt too lonely. He found himself wondering if a petpet
would solve this problem.
"A Gangee. A black Gangee. Only one for sale,"
the Skeith bragged in a lazy voice.
"How much?" Advini questioned, raising one eyebrow.
He knew that rare items usually sold for a lot-or at least more than he could
afford, but he asked anyway.
"200k firm, kid. You're lucky I couldn't sell
him for more, or he'd cost a fortune."
The Lupe knew he had only half that much, and
he knew the Skeith wouldn't pity his situation. Advini needed to find Kelly;
she would have the money he needed. But the crowd was eager to get the petpet
as well, and it would certainly be gone by the time he got back. "210k if you
hold it for me," he offered.
"Hmm... alright. No one in this dump seems to
have much more. Waiting one hour maximum, kid."
"Deal," Advini told the Skeith eagerly, and turned
back to push his way through the crowd. Once he was clear of the large gathering,
he headed toward the book section. Advini knew the Trading Post by heart; he
had had been there many times before. And, normally, after he was done lurking
around, he would go back to find Kelly in the book section. Kelly went to the
book section every time they came to buy books for Hallie, who loved to read
and learn. Advini snorted. Thank God his sister wasn't old enough to come, or
he would probably have to drag her along. He'd rather do his bidding alone,
in all honesty.
Not long after he entered the book section, he
spotted Kelly. She was near the front, trying to haggle on a rather large book,
owned by a very persistent and annoyed looking Lenny, who was, at the moment,
waving his wings furiously while Kelly tried to shout above his high pitched
Advini walked up to the rambling pair, cool and
calm as ever, and put a paw on Kelly's shoulder. The two immediately stopped
the racket at the sight of the shadow Lupe.
"Yes, Advini?" Kelly said, her throat dry from
shouting and her face red from her effort.
"I need 110k," he replied bluntly, not bothering
"For what?" she asked curiously.
Advini shrugged. "Stuff."
Kelly gave him an odd look before reluctantly
handing him a bag, clutched in her hand, along with a book. "I suppose I couldn't
have won this fight anyway," she sighed, giving up on the Lenny's trade.
Advini accepted the burlap bag, and began to
run somewhat eagerly away from his owner. Turning back to look at Kelly, he
noticed that the book she was holding was titled 'Parenting; How Do I Get Through
to My Pet?' Suddenly, foreign emotion swelled inside him, forcing him to stop
in his tracks. Starting again to a quick pace, he tried to shrug it off. Advini
couldn't. For the first time in many, many months, he felt a mix of feelings.
For the first time in many, many months, he felt anything at all. Advini felt
torn, every little emotion that he masked for the last year or so came pouring
out, making him stagger.
"Are you all right, Advini?" Kelly asked, jogging
up to him.
"Y-yes, thanks for worrying..."
"Thanks? Are you feeling alright?" There was
genuine concern in Kelly's voice.
"Y-yeah..." Advini felt that Kelly ought to know
what was going on, so he continued, "I just felt a bit weird."
"Advini, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. And I have to, uh, be somewhere," Advini
said awkwardly, and rushed off.
"Can you wait? I really do have something reserved.
Let's just talk about this later," came his dry reply. The Shadow pet didn't
have time to give his owner the details she asked for. She would have to wait.
"Fine," Kelly agreed, and ran after her pet.
The pair pushed their way through the big crowd
to the front, where the Skeith sat waiting.
"Ok, well, here's your money," Advini said, handing
the petpet's owner his and Kelly's money.
The Skeith hastily and greedily counted the Neopoints,
and took the cage carelessly, half tossing, half handing it to Advini. "Take
care of 'im for me," he said, letting out a low, rumbling laugh.
The crowd thinned, as disappointed onlookers
departed. Advini walked behind a red Aisha, next to Kelly.
"Ok. Can we talk now?" Kelly asked him, as they
exited the Trading Post.
"Um, sure," Advini murmured, stroking his new
"Alright, what happened out there?" She gestured
to the front of the book section.
"I dunno, I just felt kind of, well, everything
at the same time. It was as if I had locked up all my feelings, and I finally
found the key," Advini admitted, as they strolled out of the Trading Post. Even
he was surprised at the way he put his experience. "I just realized how different
I had become. I think... maybe... I missed being unpainted." He looked up at
Kelly. She had a tear in her eye and a smile on her face. "Are you ok?" he asked,
She nodded. "I... I just haven't seen you like
this for so long, and it makes me so happy to know that you're finally yourself
again. I've been waiting months for this. I was afraid it'd never come. But,
"Oh, don't get mushy on me." Advini smiled wryly
at that. "By the way, can I ask you something?"
"Shoot," Kelly joked.
"Ok. Here goes. If you missed the old me so much,
then why didn't you just paint me red again?" Advini questioned.
Kelly paused for a long, awkward moment. Then
she spoke. "I was afraid that you would still stay the same. And I knew you
would protest if I tried to paint you again."
Advini smiled. "At least that day never has to
At last, they had reached their cozy cottage.
As Kelly searched for the key, Advini smiled, really, truly smiled, just long
enough for her to catch a glimpse. And, at that very moment, he felt a release,
the end-no, the beginning-of a change inside himself. He looked down at his
petpet, afraid to see sad, beady eyes. Instead of finding sadness, he found
a glimmer of hope, a spark of light.
Advini, over time, fully shed the shadow of
himself, and found the real person, deep within him. He learned that he had
been wrong about the paintbrush and its effects. True, it was still more than
a style; it was a lesson. Chosen by fate for those who must learn. Advini became
a satisfied pet, and devoted himself to exploring everything he had missed before
that one fateful day.