How to Cure Nightmares
Iridesce was rarely home. She was a wanderer, never able to stay in one place for very long. It was why she ended up in the Pound - and that had very nearly killed her. It was suffocating and claustrophobic.
The end result had worked out, though. A bed she could always return to, and she was the only one with any say in where and when she went.
She was peacefully asleep, dreaming of Maraqua and the see, when something woke her. It was a strange and unfamiliar noise, and she lay blinking in the dark before she realized what it was. Someone was crying. She slid out of bed, feet landing softly on the bamboo floor.
The noise was coming from across the hall, which meant it was the new pet, a Stealthy Kacheek named Zabuzaf. Iridesce knocked on her door before opening it, stepping inside. The Kacheek had most of her painted clothes off, only wearing the shirt without its armor. In her hands, she held her helmet.
"I'm sorry," she whispered loudly, "I didn't mean to wake you." Iridesce could see the tears still on her cheeks, and the fact hed hands were shaking, the helmet rattling slightly with the minute motion.
"It's not a problem," Iridesce said quietly. Her voice didn't quite drop down to a whisper. She sat on the bed next to Zabuzaf, looking at the Kacheek with gentle concern. "I never sleep well, anyway," she lied.
"Me either," Zabu said with a soft, humorless laugh. "I haven't for... most of my life. Maybe not even when I was a kid."
"It sounds," Iridesce said slowly, keeping her gaze on the Kacheek, not wanting to push her, "like you get bad nightmares."
She hesitated a long time before replying. Iridesce didn't try to fill up the noise, or ask for an answer. She sat like she was ready to leave, if Zabu asked. Yet she was there, a comforting presence. "It is," Zabuzaf admitted, "The worst kinds of nightmares. The ones of death and blood and war."
"Perhaps I can help," Iridesce mused, "If you've been as many places as I have, you tend to pick up a few tips and tricks. Do you want me to do something, to try and help you sleep better?"
The Kacheek hesitated, but then nodded. Iridesce stood, moving for the door.
"I'll be right back," the Vandagyre told her, slipping out of the room and closing the door behind her. She headed to the music room, hoping to pilfer an instrument. But which one would be good to soothe nightmares, to pull Zabuzaf back to a peaceful sleep? Iridesce considered the harp, but that would be too large to carry, let alone the fact she didn't know how to play. Perhaps - then - a flute? A bamboo flute was just lying on the table, so she cleaned it with the cloth left next to it and carried it back into Zabu's room.
The Kacheek looked up, tilting her head. "Music?" she said, her voice puzzled.
"You'd be surprised," Iridesce said with a small smile. She sat back down next to Zabuzaf, playing a single, clear note on the flute. Yes, it would do nicely. She played a lullaby that she remembered from long ago, although she'd be hard-pressed to say where she knew it. But the melody was not enough, oh no. To help with nightmares, she wove a spell into the melody.
Despite herself, Zabu found she was getting terribly sleepy. She laid back down on the bed, her eyes slowly closing. As Iridesce played the last notes, the Kacheek snored softly.
Iridesce smiled, setting the flute on Zabuzaf's nightstand for a moment. She gently tucked the other pet in, setting her helmet back where the rest of the Kacheek's clothes were. Then she picked up the flute.
Back to the music room, so she could clean the instrument and leave it where it belonged. She would have to stay a few nights to help the Kacheek, but that was fine for now. She went back to her bedroom - or she would, but in the hall, she heard a noise again. A noise like crying, coming from Zabu's room.
Iridesce peered into the room. The Kacheek was still asleep, whimpering and crying in her sleep. Even with a lullaby and some magic, it seems it wasn't enough to fight off the nightmares. She had to do better than that. The Vandagyre went back to her room, sitting on her bed as she thought. Perhaps...
She woke with the sun, as she often did. She left without breakfast, which was less common. She was on a mission today, though: the marketplace. Iridesce hired a cart pulled by an Eyrie, although she herself could fly. She didn't very often. From Brightvale to Neopia Central, landing amongst all the people. Neopets of a million colors and species all jostled together, some of them with human owners leading the way. She pushed herself deep into the market, looking for something that called her.
It was a shabby, worn-down shop. Iridesce found the few Neopoints she had and spent most of them on it, something that Zabuzaf could always have. It would take some time to put together, especially since it wasn't a Petpet. Her own Petpet, a Biyako named Ence, was always a comfort. But Petpets were about bonds; they couldn't be forced.
Her stomach grumbled, and as she was there she grabbed an omelette the shop had for sale and spent the very last of her Neopoints. She ate as she walked, admiring the necklace. The shop owner had said it was a 'Gormball Necklace', but she would patent it as something better. She held it close to her heart with her free hand, letting her love and care and positive thoughts fill it.
When she finished the omelette, she wore the necklace properly, tucked underneath her clothes. And then she took an Eyrie cab back to Brightvale. The necklace needed to be filled with happy memories to replace Zabuzaf's nightmares.
She found the Kacheek tucked away in her room and pulled her out of it. To the game room in the house, first, where they played the games there. And then out into Brightvale, where they browsed shops without buying anything. The day was busy and full, and Zabu laughed so many times that Iridesce was positive this would work.
Iridesce dedicated three whole days to filling the necklace up with magic and optimism. She stayed for long enough that Zabuzaf commented on it, on how they were spending so much time together.
The Christmas Vandagyre spent a long time thinking about her reply. Was it time? Yes. Finally, she pulled off the necklace and handed it to Zabu. "This is for you," she said, "A Happy Thoughts Necklace. I had to make sure it would work, so I filled it with happy memories. It'll chase away your nightmares."
She took it uncertainly, looking into the orb. She could see reflections of the past few days together. "I don't want to forget," she said haltingly, "It - that was - my past is a part of me."
"You won't forget," Iridesce promised, "It'll just help you sleep."
Zabuzaf put the necklace on and then grabbed Iridesce in a tight hug. She hugged back, not caring that Zabu was crying now. How long had it been since the Kacheek had a full night's sleep? Since she wasn't haunted by her past, by all of... all of everything? Too long.
The Happy Thoughts Necklace glimmered, full of happy memories and love. That night, Iridesce slept the whole night through, not woken by any crying or screaming.
Zabuzaf slept the whole night, too.