Grey and Red
Sonia and I were horribly lost. There were no landmarks to guide us through the endless stretch of white. The moon, full and very bright, illuminated the snow around the two of us so that we could plainly see that there was nothing but our own paw prints behind us. It had been almost a week since we had set out on our travels, but we moved mechanically onwards. We had began to grow weary many days ago, but pushing on was the only viable option. We wouldn't find what we were searching for if we gave up.
Fatigued, I pulled off a snow-speckled glove to look at the vivid red fur of my paws. Sonia carried a crimson scarf, which I had given her at the last Winter Starlight Celebration. This was the only spot of anything remotely colorful on Sonia, who was a grey Kyrii. After six days of blankness, I had began to forget colors were real. Sonia and I had been trying to save our breath by not speaking, and we spent stretches of the time alone with just thoughts. There was a strange loneliness to the trek despite having a friend beside me. I could see it in Sonia too. She seemed even more melancholy than usual. I looked back to my paw, and then to her scarf. The brightness of the red startled me. I thought if someone were to fly over the outskirts of Terror Mountain, they would see two red and grey dots on a sheet of white. White. Red. White. Red. I rolled the words through my head until they began to lose meaning. The colors and the words had become nothing to me.
"Sonia?" I murmured, replacing the glove onto my paw.
"Yes, Rin? We sh-shouldn't talk. Too... cold." Sonia shivered. I could see her grimace, but her eyes lit up, if only slightly, at the sound of my voice.
I actually didn't know what I wanted to ask her. I had spoken just to confirm her presence to me. I drew a question from my thoughts. "Do you think they can see us from the sky?"
"Wh-who?" She seemed a bit alarmed. I hadn't really thought what I said through.
I replied carefully, "No one in particular."
"Could Benny have gotten in worse trouble than this?"
"You think we shouldn't have came out here?"
"I didn't mean it like that."
With only grey and white to guide us, we continued forward in silence. Our stomachs growled; we had ran out of food supplies two nights ago.
Before we had began the treacherous journey, my dear little brother, Benny, had ran off from our home in Happy Valley. I had only a vague idea of where he might have gone, but I had been worried about him, so I went to track him down. I told Sonia before I left, and after hearing of it, she joined the expedition without any explanation of her motive. I didn't expect her to join me, as she usually shied away from my dangerous adventures. I didn't try to ask for a motive, because she could be very helpful when she wanted to be, even when she was acting secretive. Benny had a habit of getting into mischief, and I would not sit by idly and let him hurt himself, not again. We had an interesting relationship as siblings. He and I quarreled often, but we were bound by a strong love. It was a quarrel that led him to flee the house, and love that would send me looking for him because he would have done the same. Benny was a trickster, it was certain, but stood up in times crisis for what he valued. He valued things others would consider petty: winning games, personal amusement, but he also valued his family, his friends. It was a beautiful and dangerous bond between us, much as the friendship between Sonia and me.
After a few more hours, the snow began to beckon to me. I looked ahead, and I found there was no end in sight. The strength I had been grasping to, like a child to a doll, had slipped from my paws. I succumbed to my great fatigue and weariness. My legs spilled out from under me and delivered me into the snow. Sonia cried out and rushed to my side. The last thing I heard before I collapsed into the freezing snow was a call. It wasn't Sonia's voice. It couldn't have been. It carried a force to it, and sounded like it came from a much older lady.
I saw Sonia cry from my spot on the ground. She grappled for my wrists, and tried to pry me back to my feet. Sonia's strength had left, too, but she hollered hysterically at the sky, trying to reach the voice. Sonia had heard the call, too. "H-hey! Who is calling? Help! Please! My friend she- my friend- my... friend. Help! She's in the snow! She... won't make it. I'm too weak! Help..." She stopped shouting, and fell to her knees in the snow next to me.
"Please. Please, Rin," she begged, clasping my paw in hers. "I can't lift you. You need to get up! You are... the only thing that matters to me! You saved me!" She tried to pick me off the ground, but she couldn't. She seemed to smile weakly. "I'm not leaving you here. Whoever called, they aren't coming for us. I need you to get up."
She released my hand and fumbled at her neck until she had taken off the scarf I gave to her. I didn't quite understand what she was saying to me. It was scarlet. I was scarlet. She was grey.
But there were no colors, so it didn't matter.
"Grab. I will pull you up!" The scarf draped over her paws and she lowered it down for me to grasp. I managed to get a very weak hold on this. She rose to her feet very unsteadily as she yanked on the scarf. I had rose up, nearly to a sitting position, before my friend collapsed next to me. We still held the scarf, but neither of us were going anywhere.
"Sonia, you shouldn't have come out here with me." I sighed.
"No. I had to."
Sonia suddenly had started to weep again. She turned her head over and whispered faintly in my ear.
"He... Benny reminds me of my sister, when I was little." Her voice grew to a louder gasp as she continued. "Oh how I wish someone could have found her when she ran off. I... I never saw her again! Cherish your time with your brother, if- when you find him. Please. You can't lose him."
"Sonia. I will." I declared. I slid the scarf from one paw and grabbed for one of hers. I meant to shake our paws, but neither of us could manage that. We held paws, and in this friendly embrace, the chill in our bones decreased. Her tears stopped.
"I think this is the ending of our story, Rin," Sonia mused, as we lay beside each other in the snow. "I'm happy you are my final chapter."
I was only able to blink. The words lay over me like a heavy blanket. One brief image crossed my mind. A tiny grey Kyrii sobbing into her paws, battered and needing a friend. Had I really saved her that day? I couldn't know. In that present moment I saw her eyelids flutter shut beside me.
With my final scrap of awareness, I recalled the voice. I was then able to connect the voice to a figure.
It was a kindly faerie in a parka, who flew over the skies of Terror Mountain, and had seen two red and grey dots on a sheet of white.
It was Taelia.
I awoke next to Sonia in the hut, bundled up in layers of blankets by a blazing hearth fire. I looked down at the blankets, first. They were woven in some of the most brilliant colors I had ever seen. Gold. Crimson. Azure. Cyan. Forest Green. Violet. But the brightest colors came from looking up. Seated impatiently in a nearby chair was a young rainbow Bori. The way his eyes lit up, he could only be Benny! I was still too weak too move, despite Taelia's healing, but he came over and hugged me. Sonia took both of us into her arms.
I had love. I had all the colors in Neopia. I had Benny and Sonia, my brother and my dearest friend. Thanks to Taelia, we would carry on together.