Last night Auri awoke with blinking eyes and found herself in a cold, opaque space. The world appearing around her was a place she didn’t know. It was dark. All dark. Not a single glimpse of starlight peering through its heavy blackness – too odd.
Her mind – still sleepy – was trying to trace back how she could have ended up here.
she was on her nightly stroll when suddenly this huge shooting star appeared which she tried to catch. She also remembers travelling the Upper Gaze later on and passing by the Milky Way Nr. 7. Mr. Gloomy Ball was watching her hopping around on the Fluffy Bounce and playing with the little, speedy Starchunks, which often get stuck in the heavy Stardust – oh, how she loves to build figures out of that one!
Often, the more mature stars prefer observing her from a distance, with joy, sometimes giving advice, but still keeping themselves apart instead of joining the game. Not so the feisty Starsparks. They were not shy at all. Following Auri wherever she goes, swirling around her – always too overexcited about everything. Cute thingies they were! Yes, life among stars is amazing. Everything is bathed in light. Everything lives…
After jumping from the Flaky Dust-Cloud – to check if the lower Deep Vast was still fine and didn’t get lost in melancholic mood again – Auri was all of a sudden chased by the Grumpy Meteorite, a nasty little thing! She remembers running, running, running… as fast as she could, still accompanied by the Starsparks of course, trying to get out of that nasty grumps sight. For a while, Auri was hiding behind that fat, but lovely, old glowing-star, which loves to be tickled by her feet, whenever she moves around on him. Then, within one second, she dashed to the next level of Milky Hills, which are always covered by the heavy Glitter-Dust Puffs, rolling down the Starlight Mountain, jumping through a Stardust-Eater hole and then – yeah…
Auri started exploring her new environment. Where was she?
Huge black shadows were rising up to a night sky without stars. The lifeless environment felt numb and dumb. And there was this stifling cold creeping into Auri’s heart more and more with every second that passed. A lifeless place. Auri felt blind as the huge blackness covered her eyes and a draining pain spread within her. The pain of a big loss. She could feel it in every corner of her body. But the source, however, remained fathomless. She deeply felt sadness and the sense of guild. The shadows lay heavily on her chest, so she likewise felt burdened while her heart was feeling empty. Light, it seemed, had vanished ages ago or it didn’t make it here. Her home among the stars appeared like a dream she was just awaking up from. All the joyful happy voices her world had been filled with had departed. There was not a single gleam she could find in this dim vast. “The stars are dead here“, Auri mumbled. Her eyes wandered from left to right. Not even one sparkle. Yes, light died herein, so did this place. It was all cold and silent. Filled by thickening, drifting swarthiness only, covering every single spot. Albeit, Auri didn’t fear darkness, she felt quite uncomfortable. The only gleam peering through the murkiness sprang from her own enlightened body forcing the shadows to pull back. And there, wherever her light touched, the ground seemed to respire and reawake.
Auri stumbled through the shadows without knowing where to go. It took a while until her eyes, removed from her bright world, finally got used to the dark environment but now she had clearer sight. The blackness surrounding her was fading slowly while weird and scary looking shapes appeared here and there. Some of them spiky, some fluffy and while some appeared rough others seemed soft. Nonetheless, Auri couldn’t make out something familiar. Those whatever-thingies weren’t made of stardust, fluffy balls, gloomy sparks or glimmer clouds. Nor had they an inner shine or sparkle. No sign of movement, no whisper. They just stood there fixed in the ground and maybe watched? Why wouldn’t they talk to each other? Were they all asleep? But still.. Auri couldn’t even hear them breathe. She stood up and took a few steps to observe them from close up. Her tiny feet touched the soil beneath and that actually made her shiver in an instant. It was made of a cold, solid material she didn’t know. Of course, it had no intention to talk to her either. Maybe too shy? Tiptoes, so the poor thing wouldn’t get hurt, Auri was hopping over the ground. Surely, it got tickled by her feet, but for some reason it wouldn’t giggle. “It’s freezing too much“, Auri thought. “That’s for sure“. She bend down and ogled the moist soil. “Oi!“. Still no reply. With the tongue between her lips, Auri put out her hand and started to tickle it with the forefinger. But still, Cold Grump wouldn’t interact. “Hmmm…“, Auri got back up and started walking further on to inspect the tall, strangely looking guises she had made out earlier. “Okay,“ she said, peering down on it from the back while moving “don’t worry, I’ll come back to you later“. She tried to sound sweet and soft but couldn’t avoid feeling a little bit sad. However, the heavy swarthiness wouldn’t rise her mood in any case. She mustn’t allow that. Pattering forward, she suddenly stood in front of a huge ball-like whatever thing. There were many of them. It looked as if they were playing a game and decided to stop and stand still in the middle of the match. Auri picked the nearest with her fingers. Of course, it was cold. And of a very hard and rough material. As it didn’t react, Auri started climbing on it. She even rolled over it, back and forth. She got up and jumped around on it, but still it wouldn’t move. Auri sighed. „Oooookaaay, keep sleeping“. No wonder everything was snoozing here, with this darkness all over. Her arms spread wide, she jumped over that Hard Orbs Playground and finally reached the tall spiky-looking something-something. “Hmmm“, Auri eyeballed it thoroughly. It had many arms spreading everywhere from its slim body. “Soooo..“, she said, blinking her eyes “I am Auri and you are?“ No response. She tried to talk to it calmly, but it just wouldn’t answer. Auri started feeling lonely. She wasn’t used to this. Usually everyone loved to talk to her. Depressed, she tried to stroke it but instead that nasty thing stretched out its needles which were pricking her skin. “Ouchiechiechie!“ Quickly pulling back her hand and licking the scratched fingers, she sat down on the cold ground and started weeping. Until that moment her world had been filled with light and joy, while this murky place was so cold, harsh and quiet. There was no one she could talk to.
Auri sat there for a while, her head on her knees, sniveling. Cold Grump still wouldn’t communicate. Nobody tried to cheer her up or give comfort while shadows now got thicker in front of her eyes. The murk circled her, as if it was only waiting for her to get weak, so it could wrap her in deep blackness as well. And it tried. The huge shadow reached out to her, with long arms, dooming and threatening. As it was close enough and about to touch her bright, shimmering body it stopped moving. An invisible shield seemed to hold it back, preventing any further actions. Auri’s sobbing came to a sudden end. The shadows appeared to rear up as they weren’t allowed to move on or do as they please. „Come close if you want to“ It was Auri talking, calmly and clearly. Waves of glowing hair swirled around her head. Without fear she addressed the overwhelming, unknown force, speaking through her arms with closed eyes. „But I can’t let you pass. I promised him not to give in, you know?“. The shadows circled Auri, brewing in anger. „What do you want?“. Auri didn’t get any reply. The shadows around her were glowering. Albeit she had a lot of experience in dealing with different characters and spirits (her world between the stars was filled with them) this for sure was a frightening and powerful one. „Are you scared?“ Auri asked. „Are you lost and forsaken? I am feeling lonely, too. We can be friends!“ She lifted her head. The shadows had pulled back and the feeling of boiling rage was gone. Apparently the ominous spirit had retreated and given up… for now.
If there was anything special about Auri it was her ability of seeing things from a different view, and that said, with a very positive and optimistic attitude. Sadly, we others tend to fail in that quite often. Like a child that she was, she was always eager of learning or getting to know new things. At no time she fears the unknown, nor does she see bad intentions in anyone. Some might call that naive, but since we tend to only see what we are looking for or want to see, it is not the worst to only see or expect the good in everyone. Especially when it comes to dark forces trying to sneak into our lives and overpower us like this one. They fear the warm- and kind hearted. Auri knows that. It was one of the most important lessons she had learned from him long ago.
Auri got back on her feet. The extreme and heavy swarthiness had left but nonetheless darkness was still lingering all around and noir mist swirled through the air, spreading feelings of utter pain and despair as before. A huge cloud of dark mist was now circling the Needled Giants. „Humph“, Auri snorted. „I guess it is your fault everything is lifeless, cold and desperate here! Stop it!“ Auri said in a peeved tone, trying to shoo the dark clouds away with her tiny hands, „leave them be!“. But the mist wouldn’t move by any chance. Auri ogled it with leery eyes. Something strange was happening to this place and if she wanted to bring all these sleeping fellas back to live, she had to find out what it was. „I truly want to know why and where light went. This darkness simply swallows everything“. This behaviour was actually more than unusual for one of the first and foremost ancient spirits and far from everything I she ever heard about them. „It is questionable whether that force is actually one of them. There must be a cause for all this misery. I really wonder what happened here“, Auri mumbled to herself. The first and best thing to do was probably trying to go and gather some information about where exactly she was and how to communicate with this lifeless environment or there was no chance of ever getting back or finding a way to return home. „Alright!“, she said jumping up, clenching her fists, „I can do it!“.
Auri was on her feet again. A soft gleam spread out from her body. Dark mist puffs swirled through the air lethargically. Auri narrowed her eyes to slits whilst watching them gathering at Needled Giants or sticking themselves to Hard Orbs and other strange things she didn’t know, yet. „I will leave you for now but you better be in for it when I return!“ Tiptoes Auri started moving onward over the cold moist ground, clueless what exactly she was looking for but feeling very proud of herself. „If you look for the light, you can often find it“, she repeated loudly, looking at gigantic somethings, which grew arms in beautiful colors. „Yet, if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see.“ Being surrounded by that dark spirit earlier she had remembered this words. HE always told her never to give in to despair. And she actually managed to prevent that ominous spirit and bad feelings from overwhelming her. If he had seen her that moment, he would be so proud.
Happily hopping forward, Auri shooed away murky clouds here and there. The Dark Fluffs didn’t seem to feel comfortable being close to her anyways, so the swarthiness just drifted aside revealing some better view on her environment. Auri explored her surrounding with eagle eyes, eager to finally find some funny fellas to play with. More and more dark clouds moved aside on her way. Suddenly a soft light peered through the murky mist, catching her eye. Auri stopped abruptly. There, in the distance she recognised a familiar glimmer. Could it be? Or was it just her mind fooling herself because she thought of HIM earlier? She closed and opened her eyes again. A silver light gleamed gently afar. She couldn’t believe it. Auri’s heart was thumping with excitement as she started running. Twice she stumbled and fell over little Hard Orbs hiding in the ground but she didn’t care. She got up and rushed to the luminescence, which was coming closer and closer now. Auri stopped running, as her feet reached the edge of the ground. There he was. Right in front of her. A big, illuminating sphere was fixed in a very strange, unknown liquid material. Its shine spread a magical glimmer over the fluid surface. Mr. Gloomy Ball! He had come to bring her back! Auri jumped and tried to hug him but she just fell in that cold, fluid stuff with a big splash. Auri was puffing and blowing. Confused and shocked, she fumbled around helplessly, trying to coordinate herself again while the cold liquid almost froze her heart. After a while, Auri realized that nothing was happening. She didn’t sink in. Actually she was able to kind of hover in that substance. It gave her a very odd feeling but she calmed down bit by bit and recovered from the shock. Auri eyeballed it more precisely. That very moment it looked quite innocent. Maybe it just stopped its attempt to soak her in? Auri stared at it with suspicious eyes. How could someone be so deceitful? She couldn’t believe it. Was it some sort of a game? Auri wrinkled her forehead. As she was able to think clearly again, she remembered what had made her get in touch with this nasty thing. Mr. Gloomy Ball! Auri looked back up at the surface where she had just seen the trusted glimmer. He was there.. and somehow he wasn’t. It was strange. His face still shimmered on the top of that liquid, now kind of blurry, because she made that nasty, sneaky and cunning stuff move. Overexcitedly it danced around her in stupid waves, surely celebrating the success of its trick. Auri gave it a scowl. “Geeez“, she sighed “You really have to learn some manners. That’s not how you make friends, you know?“. The liquid glimmered back at her. “You’re not going to talk to me either, ain’t you, huh?“. It just dabbled away. “Grmph“, Auri branched off and dipped her fingers in the illuminating gleam, but all she got hold of was suspicious fluidness, now creating even stronger waves. „Hmph“, Auri snorted. She was confused. Mr. Gloomy Ball…, why could she see him, while he wasn’t there for real? Maybe he got absorbed by that stupid substance? No! Nobody could ever rival him. Surely that thing was just blowing smoke to bait and catch her. What a sneaky trap. Was it a try to draw her attention? A bit angry on that Traitor-Liquid (no she wouldn’t like it at all, at least not now) she paddled back on the cold, solid ground. Cold Grump still gave her shivers, but at least it wouldn’t betray or trick her, would it?
Auri sat down and looked up in the sky. The stars and particularly Mr. Gloomy Ball, her most beloved one, always gave her comfort. Those guys managed to calm her down whenever she was worried and cheered her up, when she was sad. But it was no use.. the sky was dark and covered. All light got swallowed. Apparently those Dark Mist Puffs even nestled in the sky. „Hmph“ Auri made, „How shameless. Are you befriended with that Traitor Liquid? Huh?!“. Auri was so focussed that she didn’t even notice that she was watched ever since she reached this place. Some very tiny, round, luminous and translucent creatures were eyeballing her with big, round eyes, inspecting her thoroughly. Their bodies seemed soft, weightless and roly-poly like ball, spreading a soft white shimmer. Slim arms and legs grew out of it which extended in different lengths. Apparently their bodies were not solid, yet spectral and it was unclear if a living being was actually able to see or feel them. For now, Auris senses were to distracted to notice their aura. Her eyes were fixed upwards as something being akin to Sullen Stardust Clouds was up for a stroll and gave free sight on the night sky.
There they were. Far away. In the distance softly gleaming. Looking so tiny and small that Auri could hardly recognize them. It was too difficult to tell their names from down here. She could make out Lady Noble and Little Fuzz, yet it was hard to identify the others. Albeit, he was there, unmissable, resting to the right, high above all others at the infinite night sky – Mr. Gloomy Ball.
His complexion was pale and pure, with a gleam brighter than the strongest star, but decent in every aspect. Mysterious he was, yet calming. His appearance alone gave Auri comfort. From his high position, he looked down to her, almost sadly while the stars were gently blinking in the distant vast. Surely with the intention to lead her way back. This moment, Auri missed them so badly, she couldn‘t tell. Standing there, she tried to reach them with her voice but couldn’t get any response. The words got lost in the cold air while high above the stars kept on gleaming desperately. Certainly, to tell her that they were still there, trying to give her comfort even over the farthest distance. Auris eyes got a bit bleary. Mr. Gloomy Ball was looking eager to talk to her. Staring up to him, she closed her eyes and spoke without saying a word “Bring me back home!“. Opening her eyes again, she looked to her dearest but for the first time in her life, he didn‘t respond. “Please“, Auri begged, but never got an answer while the enlightened sphere looked desperate and heartbroken. Auri didn‘t understand. They wouldn‘t need words to understand each other, no. Their minds were connected, allowing them to communicate no matter how great the distance was. Until now… Their precious connection seemed broken.
Silent tears were running down Auri‘s cheeks. Yes, something was terribly wrong, she had sensed that the very first moment she had come back to mind in this blackness. Concerning the stress of ending up here, she didn‘t notice that she couldn‘t feel his presence anymore. But now she made out the emptiness in her heart. Was it the big loss she had felt ever since she had arrived at this place? All the same, the connection was gone and there was no way she could fix it. At least she didn‘t know how. Mr. Gloomy Ball was gone and so was her hope of returning home.
There she stood, Auri, daughter of the moon, detached from the starlight night sky, lost in an endless vast of swarthiness filled with deceitful spirits. Auri hung her head. “I have travelled far – too far. Will I ever make it back?” Again she was staring up into the distant starlit sky. “How sad this place here must be – so much separated from all the light”. But no matter what, she wouldn‘t let sadness and despair overcome her. She looked up to Mr. Gloomy Ball with a determined expression. I am light. I am pure. I will fail you never!
Auri buried her feet in the soil and sighed. Traitor Liquid was muttering silently in front of her. The ground felt so cold and moist that it must have been crying the whole night through. Slowly, with her feet rubbing over the soil so it would finally get some warmth, she picked up a handful of small, tiny clumps. Auri viewed them from every angle. The little spirits, still unnoticed and now sitting on her shoulder, ogled them as well. The clumps remained abiotic in Auri‘s hand, even though she breathed upon them to wake them up. Did life even exist here? Auri started wondering. Well, how could life exist in darkness in first place. She ground the clumps with her fingers. No Starflakes came out. The small crumbs just fell back on the ground lifelessly. ”No light in this world …”, she said, moving her fingers over the soil. The murkiness itself seemed to feel flattered. Once more Auri picked up a piece of solid ground, a small version of the Hard Orbs she had met before, holding it right in front of her eyes. Carefully watching, eagerly listening. Still it was behaving inanimately. Was it just sleeping? Or only pretending? What was the matter with this place? “Nobody ever told you to live?”, she asked the small brown ball placed in her tiny hands. It felt so lost and pitiful in her hands that Auri started to stroke it softly, covering it all over with stardust.
After a while Auri realized that something was happening. Slowly, slowly the light of the stardust was soaked into the ball of soil. Auri watched it moving until it completely disappeared. Something stirred inside the ball … starting to breathe…
Auri could register a gentle heartbeat in her hands. Warmth was spreading from that little, tiny ball which had been so lifeless before. In addition, all of a sudden the big emptiness around her was filled with a strong aura of calmness and patience. She didn’t know how, but it gave her the feeling of comfort and safety. Auri gazed at the small solid orb in her hands. Who would expect that powerful strength from such a tiny thing? Auri bend her head and tipped it with her tiny fingers. „Oooohhh, look who finally decided to wake up. Did you have a good napy?“, she tipped it again and lifted the tiny ball right up in front of her eyes. Its shape and appearance had changed a bit. It was no longer cold and rough. It was smooth and slightly translucent now, Auri could see its inside. Apparently the tiny orb was filled with some shiny, glittering and sparkling light which was swirling around inside slowly but steadily. It reminded Auri a bit of her world between the stars.. shimmering starlight blinking high up in the night sky and distant milky ways inviting her for a visit. „Ahhh, look at you pretty..“ Auri turned around and laid down on her belly. She placed the little ball on the ground in front of her. Moving the head left and right she watched the swirling source insight. Wiggling with her feet she kept on speaking to it. „Don’t be shy… you will talk to me, will you? Don’t worry, Auri won’t hurt you. See“,.. Auri lifted her hands and gave the orb some stroking. „It’s all good. We can be friends…ahh.. uhh..what did you say?“
She wasn’t mistaken. The clump had started mumbling, quietly and calmly. It was a slight, constant whispering which Auri wasn’t able to understand. However it dispelled and broke the overwhelming silence of this place so its effect was quite huge. Auri was bursting with joy: „Well hello there my little friend!!! You made it!“ Auri made several attempts to start a conversation. The little chunk however would only continue with its permanent babbling and she couldn’t catch a single word. But Auri would never be discouraged because of that. She could be pretty stubborn and insistent. She always refuses to be refused and if things don’t work out she would try it again because it could work out next time. So there she kept sitting and speaking to the small orb persistently as if they had an amusing talk. Now and then Auri giggled and pricked the little thing. She threw it up in the air a little, and caught it again. She was so happy that she finally found a living being in this desolate place, she just couldn’t hold back. Hugging it again and again, she smiled at it delightedly. Even though Auri didn’t understand its whispers she enjoyed listening and felt less alone. She placed the Babbling Ball on the ground next to her patting it on the back like an old friend. The reflection of her distant friends were still shimmering in that nasty liquid which had been tricking her before. “You see them?“ she asked the ball “This is my family. They are my home.“ The tiny thing mumbled away to itself. “I have never thought we’d ever be parted“. But now she knew it better. None of them would ever come down to rest here beside her. A gentle breeze came up and made the Traitor Liquid dance.
„Hmphh“, Auri had her eyes fixed on the fluid surface. She watched it moving in little waves and while doing so she didn’t notice the warmth spreading from the ground beneath. For quite a while already it had been diffusing in every direction – a powerful presence was unfolding all over the place. But lost in thoughts about her home among the stars Auri kept watching the light moving hypnotically over the fluent waves. Babbling Ball was muttering happily, as the great presence was growing bigger and bigger. But that was definitely not the only thing Auri failed to notice that moment. Apparently she was still too focused to sense the tiny translucent creatures that had been gathering up around her. Auri had a lot of talent in sensing mysterious beings and sources ever since she was little. But this time her mind and senses were somewhere else. She watched the reflection of Mr. Gloomy Ball moving while more and more little creatures were popping up here and there, quietly and still unnoticed. Seemingly shy ones were observing the events from a safe distance whilst the brave and cocky started poking Babbling Ball with their thin arms and checked their reflection. All of them looked and gathered up when a deep, soothing sound echoed through the plain.
“This… is water…“, a calm humming sounded slowly. Auri startled and detached her sight from the shimmering surface. The little creatures huddled together in a huge bundle peeking through each others arms. Trying to see but not to get seen. Babbling Ball however seemed quite happy about the sudden appearance. The humming sounded again. It took Auri a while to realise that the sound had actually transformed into real words. It was a warm, wise voice, speaking from the deepest interior of the ground. “It is the most precious source on this place you just came to… the source of all life on this dying planet which is called Earth“. The words were resounding through Auri’s head like a distant echo.