It was dark.
A pale artificial light shone down from far above, but to her, it only meant that the sky outside was growing dark. The sky... she hadn’t seen it in so long. She didn’t quite miss it, but she was growing tired of the little stone room she lived in. Every day, in the space under the door, she watched feet, paws, and hooves walk by, not even slowing their pace as they passed her. She did not feel any emotion towards it at all – she knew well not to get her hopes up in the first place.
She was allowed to leave her room at any time she liked, but there was still hardly anything that she could do. Rumors about her could be heard by anyone, should they stand silent and listen. Though not leaving her room only made the rumors increase, she couldn’t see how wandering outside it would help. And so, night and day, day after day, she stayed in her little stone room, eyes flicking towards any movement visible from where she lay.
She wondered, with slight boredom, if she had always been so impassive about the world. Before that time – no, even before then – did she ever look at the world with curiosity and optimism? Did she ever feel any interest in the mysterious things she saw, and the strange people that exist in the world? Did she ever have something she wanted to do in life – something exciting or adventurous, filled with all the pleasure and happiness she could ever want? She silently closed her eyes and tried to imagine such a thing, but could find no answer. Such a thing must be just a fantasy.
Her ears twitched, and she opened her eyes to see a pair of feet, covered with light fur, each foot wearing a simple brown sandal, stopped in front of her door. She raised her head an inch, wondering the reason for such an action. One foot took a step towards the door, then hesitated and turned to its right. She watched the feet until they were no longer visible to her before resting her head back down. She was puzzled, but did not possess curiosity enough to go and understand what had just happened; leaving her room after so long now seemed to be such a venture.
To others – even those who have a large amount of curiosity – it would be silly to even consider investigating such a trivial thing. However, as such things never happened in her narrow world, she did feel that small sense of what she hardly ever experienced. And so, with what curiosity she had, she perked her ears until she picked up a conversation from where she knew the building’s entrance was. Tuning out the distant cries and laughter of children, she closed her eyes and listened.
“...strange to see someone like you here.” A familiar voice; it was one of the workers.
“I was just passing by and wanted to come here. I’m in the area every week, but I really haven’t been to the Adoption Agency since I was here myself as a baby.”
“Have you? Then I assume you’re fine with your owner?”
“Oh, yeah, she’s very nice and fun to be around. Do you know her?”
“I’m afraid there have been too many adoptions in the past years for me to remember. Is there anyone here who interests you?”
“Actually, I was wondering if you could tell me about the little girl over there.”
A short silence, then, “The young blue Aisha?” There was a pause, perhaps a nod, then the voice continued, “Her name is Tsure. She has had two previous owners; her stats are average, aside from her level, which is twenty-one. She doesn’t seem to have any friends over here, so adopting her wouldn’t be much of a problem.”
“Ah, well, there are... the rumors.” An seemingly uncomfortable pause pursued, then, “See, her first family was large, filled with other siblings. I don’t know the reasons, but they didn’t get along well, and there was a financial crisis at the time, so they decided to leave her here. She was adopted soon after, by a somewhat wealthy man. I don’t know what happened... He came back a week later muttering something about a curse. Some kids here overheard it, and no one goes near her anymore.
“She has it pretty bad – even the workers are getting scared of her. I take care of her myself, but she isn’t very open to anyone. Still, I know she’s a very nice girl. Would you consider adopting her?”
“Mm, maybe. Having another pet would place Ranea in trouble, since we’re already pretty poor.”
“I see... well, you can look around if you’d like.”
She let out a small breath, and lowered her ears emotionlessly as she heard the familiar sound of footsteps walk once again past her door.
She walked inside the building, her worn sandals giving dull thuds against the tile floor. She gave a yawn, stretching her arms, and then suddenly straightened after nearly losing her balance, as if unaccustomed to moving. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, then glanced around uncertainly.
The walls and ceilings were a fresh white, and the floor dark beige, with white lines evenly setting out the tiles that were covered with the dusty prints of feet and paws. A line of chairs were framed by the artificial light from the windows behind it, which they themselves were framed by pastel-colored curtains. A lamp not yet turned on hung from the ceiling, and a table full of toy train tracks, little cars, dolls, and plushies sat below it. Little neopets, all of a basic color, ran across the room in zigzag patterns, caught up in a game of tag, a green Gelert being “it.”
She gazed around with distant eyes. She had been here, long ago, but had hardly a memory of it. She was unsure of whether it was because she was adopted not long after arriving or because her mind was too young to remember. Perhaps it was both.
“You... hey, you over there.”
She blinked, surprised, and looked around her, eyes landing on a cloaked figure. After confirming that the person’s gaze was on her, and that she was indeed the “you” just spoken of, with some caution, she approached the figure with a questioning look. The figure regarded her with a nod and pulled down the hood of the cloak, revealing rogue brown eyes, large white-tipped ears, and a fur-covered face. A Bori of a light cloud color stood before her.
“Is there... something...?”
With short glances left and right, without a word, the Bori withdrew a large bag, bulging with coins. He grabbed her paw and set the bag in it and, still holding both, he whispered, “That girl – the young blue Aisha – you were speaking of her, right?”
Shocked at the weight of the bag, she could only nod dumbly, her eyes wide. She had never seen so many neopoints in her life. With her response, the Bori continued, haste dominating his voice.
“Would you adopt her? Listen, I can’t tell you more, but I’ll give you these 100,000 neopoints if you’ll adopt her. If you need more, just tell me, but please just adopt her – you want to anyway, don’t you?”
She blinked several times, a million questions in her head but her mouth unable to speak them. Eventually, she simply nodded, causing the Bori’s face to brighten. He whispered, “Then you’ll do it?”
She gave another nod, starting to regain her sense of mind. She raised her other hand to support the heavy bag of neopoints. “Yes... I will.”
Giving a smile, he let go of her arm and the neopoints. He reached for the hood of his cloak, pulling it over his head once more. “In that case, I leave her in your hands. Take care, and thank you,” he said, then silently left the room with a satisfied air.
She was asleep when the clang of her door opening woke her. Though she had just woken, her mind was clear, and already wondering. Was it time for her dinner already? No, she had already eaten. Then what?
“This is her. Are you sure?”
“Yep, very sure!”
She rose and looked up at the familiar – but not too familiar – voice, with some surprise. The voice was owned by an Aisha, her blue eyes shining. Her pelt was a very light blue with blots of pure white, and rather than the golden “A” on her collar typical to Aishas, she wore a bell of the same color as her fur. A shimmering, silvery dress covered all but her arms and ankles, and was highlighted by the overhead lamps. She had a head of long white hair, though her other features proved her young. On her feet were two simple brown sandals.
Tsure blinked, surprised at her name being said in the stranger’s voice. The worker she knew signaled to come out, and she walked into the light, squinting slightly against it. Her pelt of dark blue fur glistened after so long in the dark, and unkempt black hair flowed down to her shoulders. Mysterious dark blue eyes revealed a deep understanding of many things others knew nothing of. She directed a steady gaze towards the taller Aisha, and replied composedly, “Yes.”
“My name’s Milana! I’m going to be adopting you. Well, I have an owner, and she’s technically the one who’s supposed to adopt you, but she’s not here right now, and this person here was able to bend the rules. You know each other, right? What? Oh, right, I need to sign some papers first.”
Without waiting for a response from the stunned little Aisha, Milana grabbed Tsure’s paw and headed towards the front desk after the worker. Tsure was silent for a moment – unable to speak – then regained her senses, dug her feet into the ground, and pulled at the arm Milana was holding. Her lips raised slightly over her fangs, she yelled, “Stop it!”
Milana halted, puzzled, but kept a hold of Tsure’s paw. The young Aisha’s eyes seemed to glow abnormally red as she glared up at the cloud Aisha, growling, “Why are you adopting me? Don’t waste my time – we both know all about me, and I don’t care about living here.” Her voice was growing louder, and several neopets stopped to stare as she yelled, “I don’t want to be adopted by you out of pity, so don’t bother me with it!”
The worker, shocked at the little Aisha’s sudden erratic behavior, glanced between the two fretfully, attempting to quickly think of something to ease the situation. Milana, however, seemed unmoved by the declaration. Instead, she lowered herself to Tsure’s eye level, smiled softly and said, “Please be my little sister.”
With those words, the anger and aggression disappeared from Tsure’s face in an instant. Her eyes grew wide, her lips parted slightly, and her tense figure grew slack as she repeated one word in a whisper:
Author’s Note: ...of the beginning. I was originally writing this as the first part of my next story, but I wanted to get feedback on it before continuing. So neomails are very greatly appreciated, and I hope you enjoyed the story!