Disclaimer: The pet names are entirely made up and none of the names are referring to actual players or pets. ^_^
It was supposed to be a normal day. It almost was, except that it was the day my brother disappeared. And all we did was stop to hear a song.
It was a warm day in the city of Neopia Central, misty after a cold rain the night before. We had to go a long way to get there; we lived in Faerieland. Even so, it was faster travel than for many, because my brother was an Eyrie - a lightning-striped Eyrie. The hired Eyries didn't go anywhere as fast as he would for us - just him and me.
We had gone to Neopia Central to buy furniture. We'd just moved, leaving everything we owned behind, except a few items of sentimental value. We had to move a lot; because it was just me and my brother, with no owner, and my brother had to steal things to keep us alive sometimes, they wanted to split us apart and put us in the Pound. They didn't understand.
The mist was making my red, mottled coat damp that day. I never understood why they called this color Camouflage for Ixi like me - what in Neopia would this camouflage with? I ignored the thought, for I'd been wondering about that since the man who called himself a good owner had painted me. He'd worked hard for us, but spent all of his time buying and selling. The paintbrushes were the only things we ever got from him, we didn't even get food. That was when my brother started stealing things.
Anyway, it was a normal day - we would go to Neopia Central, haggle for what we needed, then go home with a little food and maybe some other necessities. And we had just begun to leave, when I noticed movement behind the shop that we had just left...
An Acara. A white Acara. His eyes were unfocused as if he were blind, and he was... singing? Singing, blind, huddled against the wall of the shop to keep warm. I occasionally had reminders that some pets were worse off even than us, but never like this.
"Don't fly yet, Striker," - my nickname for my brother - "I want to look at something." The Acara was singing so softly, I had to come close to hear the words anyway.
Though he was quite clearly blind, he must have heard my hooves, for he turned towards me slowly, not stopping his song, which was quite clear by now.
"Striker, down, strike down towards sand, test by time,
Where the sun beats down, Striker, down, find your riches there."
"...Riches?" The fact that he was using 'Striker' didn't alarm me. I'd heard all variations of that name many times. It was common.
"In the sands, far away, find your riches there.
Up the river stream, very far from anywhere."
I grew excited - I was young then. If what this Acara said was true, Striker - or Talt - would never have to steal again. "Where?"
The Acara was silent for a moment.
"Striker, down, striker, down, never see again. Striker, down, strike down towards sand, test by time..."
Poor guy, I thought - blind, mad, and on the streets...
But mad or not, perhaps there was something to his song.
"Yep?" Striker -- er, Talt -- wasn't much older than me. We were almost like twins, even.
"I, um... heard a rumour."
"No, I mean it could, like, solve all of our problems."
He smiled. "Then fire away."
"I heard from this Acara, and... um..." I'd have to make the story sound better than it was for him to check it out. If it were true. "This Acara and a bunch of other pets were talking about how they'd found gold buried in the desert. And how they'd get it tomorrow once they got a bank account and some supplies."
Talt's eyes widened. "Did it belong to anyone?"
"I don't think so, maybe someone that lived a hundred years ago or something."
Talt nodded slowly. "Are you sure this is true?"
I had to think fast. I had convinced myself that it was true; but if it weren't, IF it weren't, I wouldn't want him disappointed. "Pretty sure; it sounded real."
"Do you know... where? The desert is big."
"Where the river starts, somewhere. Or near there. In the Lost Desert province, as close to the start of the river as possible." I'd never gotten good at geography; I realized I wasn't making much sense.
Talt smiled more widely, with a confidence that always made me feel good; I was confused when the smile faded a little. "Ah... Haze... If it belongs to anyone, I don't want you to -"
"-Get in trouble. I know." I'd heard it dozens of times before. "I'll wait for you. I'll make us more pancakes."
"Thanks, Hazelnut." I'd never understood just how my nickname fit me, but it made me feel better anyway.
And in another moment, a flash of blue lightning streaked through the sky, out of sight in just a few moments. He was good at finding things, and it was like he could read my mind - I never had to explain much before he understood. He'd be back in a day or two.
I waited a week. After three days, I had to start going to the Soup Faerie to feed myself, but other than that, I didn't even leave the house. If he got home and I wasn't there, he'd go mad from worry.
But then, I had to go to Neopia Central - there were shopkeepers there waiting for us. I was sure that if I left a note, he'd understand. I knew how to get there and how to take care of myself.
The last Neopet I'd expected to see was the white Acara.
"...The shopkeepers can wait," I reminded myself, approaching. He was still singing.
"Striker, down, Striker, down..."
He seemed exhausted; this was the only line he sang now, his voice even lower than before, his eyes closed as he propped himself against a barrel.
"Hey, uh... If you want, you can come to our house. We don't have much, but it'd sure be more than now." Talt would kill me for making that offer, but I was sure he'd change his mind once he saw this guy's condition.
"Striker, down, Striker, down."
"I'm, uh... My brother went off to look for that treasure you were singing about. I want to go there to see what's keeping him... Where was it again?"
One double-ear twitched towards me. "In the sands, far away, find your riches there. Up the river stream, far, far from anywhere..."
"Um..." Was the song all he could say? "...Thanks." I smiled. It wasn't hard for me to be friendly to anyone.
Having forgotten all about the shopkeepers who had set aside an item or two for us, I took off again, taking what was left of my change to the Eyries. Maybe my brother had found so much treasure it was taking a while to pull up. What can I say? I was young, then.
And if you go, now, to Neopia Central, he'll still be there. Find the blind, starving, mad White Acara, and he'll still be singing.
"Hazel, down, Hazel, down..."