"Ooh - Shiny!” Alisia pounced excitedly on the glinting object beside the footpath that had caught her eye. When she straightened up she was holding a bottle of blue sand.
“Look at how the light reflects off the glass!” she enthused, “it’s so pretty - I'm gonna add it to my collection!”
Darza, her brother, was somewhat less than enthusiastic about this prospect. In fact, the vast majority of people failed to quite share Alisia’s fascination with her collection of shinies. Even her best friend Bela had been known to complain about sitting and looking at shinies for hours on end. Darza pointed this out to his sister.
“Seriously,” Alisia complained, “I don't know what Bela’s problem is! It’s not like my shinies smell that bad!”
Darza grinned at her. “Ahh, but we can fix that!”
Alisia rolled her eyes at him and gave him a playful shove that set him off balance. The red Kau lost his footing and began to stagger around in an overly dramatic fashion, apparently trying to regain his balance. Alisia smiled as she watched his antics. Her brother could be such a clown! But then, something bright caught her eye.
And it was hurtling right towards her brother at breakneck speed.
“Darza!” she screamed in fear, and dove forwards to pull him out of the way.
And not a moment too soon.
The brilliant ball of light struck the pavement right where Darza had been moments before. Red Kau and yellow stood side by side on the pavement, frozen in shock.
As the two watched, the light slowly resolved itself into a recognisable shape – a light faerie. She seemed to take a moment to get her bearings, glancing around at Neopia Central in the light of the setting sun. Judging by the way she was continually wringing her hands, she was clearly distressed about something. At length, she seemed to catch sight of the red and yellow Kaus standing right in front of her.
“Ah, there you are, kind Neopians! I need your help. Please bring me: Dreaming.”
Without waiting for any kind of a response, she turned her back on them and took to the sky leaving a trail of sparkles behind her. Alisia looked at her brother, a questioning look on her face. Dreaming? What was that supposed to mean? Darza didn't seem to have much of an idea either.
“Don't light faeries normally ask for collectable cards?” he suggested. “Maybe we should stop in at the collectable cards shop and see if they've got a 'Dreaming'.”
Alisia shrugged. It sounded reasonable to her. So, brother and sister Kau set off in the direction of the brightly coloured Neopian Bazaar where the collectable cards shop stood.
Ding-a-ling-a-ling! rang the tiny golden bell above the shop door as they stepped inside. The Buzz owner looked up from the book he was reading.
“Evening sir, ma'am. How may I help you today?” he greeted them, taking his feet down from his desk as he spoke.
“We're looking for... 'Dreaming'?” said Darza, uncertainly.
That seemed to mean something to the Buzz. He responded, “Certainly, m'boy let me take a look for you!”
The Buzz got to his feet with an enthusiasm that sent his wheely chair spinning back several metres and bumping into a filing cabinet. Oblivious, to this, the Buzz took to the air and flew over the desk towards the floor stock. He came to rest in an aisle filled with glittering collectable cards, hanging in neat rows.
Alisia and Darza followed on foot.
They watched with interest as the Buzz flipped through a rack of blue cards, only to declare that 'Dreaming' appeared to be out of stock. Alisia's face fell.
“Ahh, fret not, lassie,” the Buzz told her when he saw how disappointed she was, “The marketplace is but a short walk yonder – there's bound t' be a store o'er there with yon card in.”
Without further discussion, the Buzz grabbed an old fishing hat from behind his desk and slapped it on his head. He stepped out of the shop and held the door for Alisia and Darza.
Alisia gave him a look of confusion.
“I’m sure we could find the card ourselves, Mr. Shopkeeper,” she said. “Perhaps you should stay to keep an eye on your shop?” she queried.
“Thank you, ma’am,” he smiled at her, “but it’s closing time anyway, and I love to help out a customer!”
And so saying, the Buzz, turned out the lights, flipped the shop sign to closed, and locked the door.
Together, the trio set off down the darkened street towards the marketplace. Fluttering clouds of Buzzers surrounded the streetlamps, causing them to cast an uncertain light over the street.
As the three companions walked past a sharply angled hedge, Alisia noticed a pair of dimly glowing eyes deep within it. With a slight rustle, a green Kadoatie separated itself from the bushes and emerged onto the pavement. It arched its back, mewled softly, and then proceeded to pad down the street after them. Alisia thought nothing of it and kept walking.
Before long, they turned a corner and the marketplace loomed in dull reds and blues. Alisia checked over her shoulder and was not surprised to see that the Kad was still following close behind them. She paused for a moment to stroke it, letting Darza and the Buzz get ahead of her. Then she scurried to catch up.
“Might I recommend this shop as an ideal point to commence our search,” the Buzz suggested to Darza as they reached the marketplace. He held the door politely as Darza, Alisia, and the green Kadoatie all stepped into the shop.
The shop in question was a typical variety store – packed to the ceiling with tottering piles of all kinds of items imaginable and with only a vague semblance of order to the stock. Darza found a few collectable cards and began sorting through in search of the one they wanted. The Kad sat beside him and watched with interest.
Alisia, however, continued making her way towards the front of the shop. The owner had decorated it in black with dull green and red - in honour of Dr. Sloth. The dull colours contrasted strangely with the vibrant piles of junk.
With her eyes focused on the posters of the evil mastermind up ahead, Alisia hadn't been watching her feet. She felt her hoof collide with something and looked down to see what it was. A box of Kikoughlea drops lay in the walkway – they’d evidently been dislodged from their proper place by her carelessness.
Unfortunately for Alisia, that box seemed to have been a key component in the infrastructure of the pile it was part of. A tower of plushies and rainbow blasters above her now tottered precariously, threatening to fall at any moment. She quickly threw up a hoof to shield against any falling items whilst trying to nudge the box of Kikoughlea drops back into its proper place. But apparently to no avail.
Something dislodged itself from the top of the stack and came crashing down to the floor – a pirate Scorchio. Not a pirate Scorchio plushie but an actual, legitimate pirate Scorchio. It was anyone's guess why he’d been on top of the pile in the first place. The Scorchio got to his feet, and pulled out a sword as he looked around.
“Oi!” he yelled, as he caught sight of Alisia. “What was that about?” He lunged at her with his sword.
Alisia jumped back out of reach, but the enraged Scorchio was not going to give up that easily.
“Get her!” he roared over his shoulder. A pirate Myncii came hurtling round the corner behind him. Miraculously he managed not to knock down any piles of items. Faced with this double threat of Scorchio and Myncii bearing down on her, Alisia turned tail and ran.
The pile she’s been trying to stabilise earlier came crashing down behind her and all the rainbow blasters began to spontaneously detonate. The barrage of rainbow fire dislodged items from their proper positions all around the shop, sending a random assortment of items raining down on the shop's occupants. Unperturbed, the Mynci and Scorchio both leapt over the fallen debris of items and raced after Alisia.
Alisia tore down the aisle and back to where Darza was still sorting through collectable cards.
“Run!” she squealed, and scooped up the green Kad as she hurtled past.
Dodging through piles of junk, she made her way back to the shop entrance, pounded down the steps, and ran and ran.
Before she knew it, she was at the shore, with the vast expanse of the Summer Sea stretched out ahead of her. She turned left and continued to run down the beach.
She felt slow and sluggish now, and exhaustion was quickly overtaking her. She stopped for a moment, put the Kad down, and leant against the trunk of a palm tree – her breath was coming in ragged gasps.
She squinted back at the beach behind her. She wondered where Darza had got to. The bright sunlight reflecting off the white sand made it hard to see but she could just barely make out a pair of shapes against the sand. As they drew closer, she could see them more clearly. It was those two pirates, coming after her still.
Alisia gave a small cry of fright and turned to run further along the beach. The dry sand squeaked softly underhoof as she took each laborious step. Why were those pirates chasing her anyway? She hadn’t done anything wrong!
Eventually, she gave up and simply sat in the sand where she was. The Kad stopped beside her and sat waving its long tail back and forth like an excited Puppyblew.
“Why are you chasing me?” she asked breathlessly as the pirates approached.
The two stopped and exchanged a glance. Then the Scorchio spoke – he seemed to be the leader. He explained that they wanted the ice crystal that she had in her handbag. It was theirs, he claimed, and they wanted it back!
Alisia looked about herself in confusion.
“But I don't have a handbag!” she protested.
It was very true.
“Ahh, but we can fix that,” said the Mynci in a tone that sounded passably similar to Darza's. From force of habit, Alisia rolled her eyes at him. So far as she was concerned, the pirates had no need to be chasing her if she didn’t even have a handbag.
But his mention of ice crystals had sparked her interest. She'd heard that they were incredibly beautiful, and tended to grow on tall, snowy mountains. She felt a sudden impulse that she wanted to see one for herself.
“Whadda ya say, Kad,” she addressed the Kadoatie, “Shall we go find an ice crystal?”
“Mew,” said the Kad in an unmistakable affirmative, and, tail held high, marched inland towards the roots of a tall mountain.
As they reached the mountain and began to climb upwards, the rocky terrain gradually gave way to snowy terrain. Alisia was prancing along a slight ridge when Kad suddenly said a warning “Meww!” The yellow Kau felt something under her hoof give way and reeled back just in time. A small cascade of snow fell in on itself where her hoof had been, revealing a deep shaft that led straight down into the heart of the mountain.
“I am not going down there!” said Alisia firmly.
“Mew,” said the Kad in agreement.
So together the pair turned back to retreat in the same direction that they'd come. There was no telling what other surprises and booby traps this mountain might hold, but they weren't about to find out.
They walked in amicable silence, chatting about inconsequential things, when they suddenly found their way blocked by a wall.
Kad wondered what was on the other side, so Alisia reared up and placed her front hooves on the top of the wall to peer over. It was a rainbow fountain! Alisia had always wanted to take a dip in a rainbow fountain.
“Wish me luck!” she told Kad.
Kad bade her farewell, and Alisia took a running leap, cleared the wall, and landed with a splash on the other side.
Gnarled trees grew along the water’s edge, reaching long, claw-like branches down to the water’s surface. The dark trunks were interspersed with the pale green of bamboo chairs and tables. But none of this bothered Alisia. She sank deep into the pool, oblivious to her surrounds, then turned her face upwards and rose to the surface again. To her delight, she saw that she now had wings!
Alisia fluttered her new wings and rose out of the rainbow pool in triumphant flight. The tree guardians of the pool reached out their long clawing fingers towards her and scratched and tore at her wings as she passed. She screamed in agony, but she didn't feel any pain. Perhaps there were no nerves in her new wings anyway.
As she rose above the cruel trees, Alisia smiled. No longer a simple yellow Kau, tonight she floated through the sky, watching all of Neopia below.
She had a strong feeling that there was something she was meant to be doing, but she couldn’t quite think what it was. With a sigh, she decided to shake off the thought and be content to live in the moment. The soft air cushioned her all around, lights winked on and off at random below her, the silence was delicious. This was the moment.
Then a vast, dark expanse caught her notice. There was just one pinprick of light on it, and she made towards that.
She landed in a vast plateau, in front of a blazing bonfire. A small green form seated atop an enormous pile of hats was silhouetted against the enormous fire. Kad turned to face her.
“Where have you been?” asked Kad.
“Oh, I've been to Faerieland to visit the queen,” answered Alisia vaguely. It wasn't quite true, but it struck her as she said it, that it was a rather nice idea.
“Yes, but there’s no time for that now,” said Kad, briskly, and whisked her inside a dung hut.
Inside the hut was Miss Annesly – Alisia’s teacher from Neoschool, almost a decade ago. The elderly Acara looked up from her embroidery.
“My dear, aren't you meant to be finding 'Dreaming' for the light faerie?” she asked.
Alisia gave a guilty start. She and Kad raced to the nearest library and started flipping frantically through book pages, ignoring the Crokabeks perched ominously on top of the shelves.
Eventually Alisia decided this was getting them no-where. She slammed her book shut.
“Let's go to Faerieland and ask Fyora,” she declared.
Grabbing Kad in her front hooves, she took to the sky and landed on a small cloud on the outskirts of Faerieland. It was incredibly cold and hard.
Alisia had a brief moment to wonder which direction Fyora's palace was in before an army of Sloth's flying robots surrounded her, making it rather difficult to get anywhere at all. She hoped they wouldn’t notice her there… maybe she could blend in with the cloud...
Just then, Alisia noticed a familiar red figure on the cloud next to hers. Darza turned to face her.
“Alisia!” he said with relief, “Have you found Dreaming?”
Something about his words stirred a thought deep inside Alisia. Her eyes opened wide and then she began to laugh with the shock of realisation.
“I'm Dreaming!” she told him.