He is exploring something called a heart. He thinks it is the worst decision of his life, but he cannot stop.
He has heard much about hearts. They ache. They break. They beat to the sound of drums. They get sick and fluttery and joyful and crack into shattering pieces. They have no limit of desires.
They feel so much. Perhaps that is what he wants. To feel.
If he were a robot, his curiosity about a heart would be more reasonable, more justified. He is not a robot, though; he is a wraith, a creature born of shadow and weaved with magic into being, into life.
He does not have a heart. He does not have a brain, either, or a pair of lungs, or a growling stomach, or pulsing veins or aching thoughts--
He does not have a lot. He never realized this, though, until someone pointed it out to him. A child.
"You're a weird Krawk," the young Kacheek said. "Out here in the bog all alone. Are you a ghost?"
He remembers the child as small and insignificant. "Have you not seen ghosts before?" he asked. "I am a wraith, child, darkness personified."
"Oh, cool," the yellow Kacheek said. She nodded along like she understood.
"You do not know what a wraith is," he said.
The youngster pouted. She looked angry. "Well, I know what it is now. If you're so smart tell me more about them then!"
He opened his mouth to respond, but could find no proper way to describe what a wraith IS. He could only describe what it ISN'T.
A heart is what a wraith is not. Or maybe it's just what he is not. He never could tell anymore. All these questions and festering thoughts clouded him, since he had no brain, and mysterious loss resounded in his entire being, since he had no heart to store it in.
It was crippling. It was a whirlpool sucking him in. It was new.
"Don't cry," the Kacheek said, placing a hand on his shoulder as he held his head on the ground in agony. "It's okay, to be different. Everyone is different."
Everyone is different, but everyone else has similarities. Minds. Psyches. Ears. Eyes. Hearts.
He wanted a heart for himself, one to call his own, but he was not made with a heart or for a heart and none were made for him.
Whoever made him, he does not like. He does not like a lot of things.
He is searching for a heart, the perfect heart. It is not present in his lonely bog, or the town below. The hearts there are too sour or too sweet, too shallow or too deep. None are right, none but the Kacheek's.
Her name is Sallee. She is young, hardly of eight years, while he is timeless. She considers him friend. He talks to her because she will not leave until one conversation is had.
She had come around one day, lost, into his bog. No one had ever come to his bog before. The town below seemed pressed to ignore the bog forever. Until she came, that is.
She found him and asked if he was lost too. She did not ask for directions, like normal people would. He was left to wonder at her, for a moment, his shadow wraith being flickering as he tried to think without a brain. He told her to keep to her own business. She asked him what kind of Krawk he was. She asked what a wraith was. She asked what a wraith is.
She made him question his own being. He is a wraith, a creature of shadowy night crossed with sewn up stitching magic to keep the clusters of living night together. He does not know how to explain this. He just knows how to explain what he isn't.
He is not an average neopet. He is not a kind Krawk, or a shoulder to cry on, or a good conversationalist. He is not a seeker of grand ideas or a thinker of great philosophies. He is not a runner for he has no lungs to fuel his speed. He is not a caring pet because he has no heart to care with, to feel with. He is not a heart.
She has a heart, though. Her heart is pure but it is also reasonable. It expects much but not all at once. Her heart feels, displays emotions, and finally he realizes what he had been comparing all the other hearts to all along.
He wants her heart.
She visits him, for some reason, repeatedly. She visits him a lot. She tries to talk to him and play with him and he is only left in more bland confusion as she tries to teach him a "patty cake" or a "lemonade crunchy ice" or a "hide and go seek and don't peak this time." She visits him often, and he does not know why. Her heartful kindness knows no bounds.
He engulfs her, one night, when she comes to visit him again. She has brought him a snack that neither of them will feel like eating because she knows he gets angry when she does things he cannot, but it is still a gift for he who she considers friend. She is caring and heartfelt, and he can not take it anymore. She rubs her heart in his face and it displeases him greatly that what he wants is so close to him and yet so far from his reach.
He engulfs her, tries to wrap himself around her and take her heart for his.
Her heart screeches. Her entire being screeches. Her mouth screeches the most, though.
He engulfs her. She will not be engulfed, though. He retreats.
There is a new sound in his body. It is not a heart. He knows this because it is not like her heart. His shadows had been swirling, swirling so much in turmoil for so long that his insides felt like a whirlpool instead of the usual silence.
The whirlpool is not just in him, he finds, but IS him. He is turmoil and conflicting. It's his insides swirling and swirling and pulsing in his empty chest and empty stomach and empty head. It is mending together after his retreat. It is whirlpooling faster and faster, the memory of the child's terror sheering straight through the middle of it all.
It is then, alone deep in the bog, in the dark, the child long gone, that he realizes the whirlpool sounds like a heartbeat, sad and slow.
"What is your name?" the Kacheek asks, hesitantly, as he continues to marvel at the beating inside of him, even after all this time. She is older now. She is no longer hardly eight, but much more, grown and still yellow, and he is still timeless.
The sun is shining and it irks him in a curious way, making him want to greet it. He has ventured out to greet it and met her by accident. She remembers him, though, the him who had no heart and tried to take her own from her. Her distrust is justified. He should not be trying to rectify that, but he is. He breathes along to his strange, mysterious inside beating, contemplating a response.
She asks him his name because he had never given her one. He had never had a name before, not one in all of the timeless being he had existed in previously. He had just been wanting and lesser, daunting and monstrous, everything and nothing, all at once. He has made himself whole, though. He is no longer just shadow or magic. He is far beyond those simplicities.
He breaths shakily, his beating pulsing through him.
"My name... is Heart."