The Valentines Festival

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There was a sharp prod in Lucerne's side. He flinched and rolled away.
"Leave me alone Avaro, let me sleep," he mumbled, pulling the covers closer to his face.
"Number one, I'm not Avaro. And two, no. Get up."
Lucerne sat up and rubbed his eyes, turning his head to the large robotic cat at the side of the bed.
"Roxxan? Why are you here?" He asked.
"You always sleep late and I'm fine with that, but today is a special day for everyone in OCTown and I'm fairly certain you would be thanking me for waking you up," Roxxan replied, spinning around to head toward the door.
"I would've woken up on my own eventually you know? Besides, what's so special about today?" Lucerne questioned, trying to remember if he'd forgotten something.
"Why don't you get up and see for yourself?" Roxxan answered before vanishing out the door.
Lucerne hopped to his feet, changed out of his pajamas and into his usual wear, then scurried to the main room.
He hadn't even reached the room before noticeable changes caught his eye.
Along the walls of the hallways were heart themed decorations, red and pink colored streamers and many other love related decorations.
Deep confusion flooded his mind as he continued toward the main room. Occasionally he stopped to read the cheesy lines on some of the decorations and snickered at some of them.
"Roxxan, I still don't understand-" Lucerne couldn't finish his sentence before orange fur tackled him to the ground.
"Its the Valentines Festival!!!" Estella cheered in his face before hopping off his chest.
Lucerne sat up swiftly and shook his head, the back of it throbbing from where it hit the ground.
Estella seemed to have noticed and winced. "I'm so sorry, I just get way too excited this time of year! It's so beautiful to see everyone showing how much they care about each other, whenever its just friendship or something more!" The orange cat grinned at Roxxan and she smiled in return.
"I...think I understand?" Lucerne said, rising up to his feet.
"To put it simply, its just a holiday where people express their love a lot. Usually its for couples like me and Estella, but friends and family count to since you should also love your friends and family," Roxxan explained.
"Yep! And since you're one of my friends..." Estella tapped her neck band and one of the gems began to glow, an object forming outside it.
After a few seconds the glowing stopped and the object fell to the ground.
Estella snatched up the object and shoved it at Lucerne while beaming.
He took the object and looked down at it. It was a red heart shaped box that was slightly bigger than his hand. Flipping it over gave Lucerne the information that it held a few pieces of chocolate, each one a different kind.
"Uh, T-Thanks!" He stammered as he read the flavors.
"I already gave everyone else theirs! Except Avaro, he left before I could wake up," Estella meowed.
"Avaro isn't here?" Lucerne asked.
"Yeah, OStar says he went to the festival early. So we're all going to find him when we get there," Roxxan answered, continuing on to the main room with Estella following closely behind her.
Lucerne blinked, setting the box of chocolates on a nearby desk for later.
Once he finally entered the large room he realized that there were tons more Valentine's decorations, way to many to have been put up in a single night. There was a massive teddy bear in a corner with heart shaped balloons and so many more pink and red colored items that it hurt Lucerne's eyes a bit.
"Did you two seriously put this all up last night?" He exclaimed.
"No, of course not. The mansion is magical, you know that. On holidays it decorates itself, just like OCTown... You know this already! You've been here long enough to have celebrated at least ONE holiday with us!" Roxxan meowed in response.
"Right, right," Lucerne laughed, as if he was joking the entire time.
"Wasn't there a holiday about a month or two ago? Christmas?" He thought for a long moment, concerned on how he managed to forget something that seemed so big.
Lucerne looked up to say something to Roxxan, but she and Estella had already vanished.
"Hey Lucerne! Over here!" A voice called and he looked up to see Charlotte waving from the sofa.
"We're supposed to leave in a few minuets, you ready?" She asked.
Lucerne looked down at himself, wondering if he should dress differently.
"Just bring like, currency or something cause you might want to buy some things," Charlotte added before standing up.
"Where is everyone?" Lucerne asked.
"In the kitchen getting a few more snacks. And bring strange objects too, cause trading is also possible."
Lucerne nodded, heading to the kitchen where Afina was sitting on OStar's back and Rual was storing some extra snacks in a backpack.
"Good morning!" Afina exclaimed, smiling.
"We were just about to leave, good thing Roxxan woke you up," Rual commented.
"Yeah I know. What is this festival going to have?" Lucerne inquired, taking a seat and plucking up a small bag of potato chips to munch on.
"All kinds of gross lovey-dovey stuff," Charlotte replied from behind him.
"Hey it's not THAT bad, I think it's pretty sweet," Afina protested.
"I agree," Lucerne thought with a mouth full of chips.
OStar stayed quiet, she had only been in OCTown for a few days, but she seemed to be settling well.
"Alright shut your mouths," Roxxan suddenly hissed as she entered the room. "We're leaving now, so lets go,"
Rual quickly zipped up the backpack and put it on while Afina hopped into Charlotte's arms.
"Guess we're going," she meowed as she climbed up onto Charlotte's shoulders.
Lucerne glanced at OStar and shrugged, following the group out the door.
Lucerne gasped as he stepped outside to the sweet smelling air. The sky was a light gentle pink while the grass was dark magenta. Pink, white, red, and purple petals littered the ground and were frequently swept up into the air by the wind or passing feet.
"Okay, I wont lie, this is pretty cool," Charlotte admitted, catching a petal in her hand and examining it.
"See? It's sweet!" Afina mewed.
"Hey I just said the decorations were nice. I never said all those snugglers who act like personal space never existed were nice," Charlotte argued.
Afina proceeded to wrap her paws around Charlotte's neck and into a hug. "What's wrong with snuggles?" She asked.
Charlotte's only reply was to roll her eyes.
As Roxxan and Estella guided everyone to the main section of the festival, Lucerne continued to look around the decorated town.
There were pretty heart shaped flowers, the sound of music, and traders and vendors everywhere while other people simply walked around enjoying the sweet holiday.
It didn't take long for the group to start spitting apart. First, Estella suddenly sprinted off with a cheerful cry as Roxxan tailed after her saying something about how everyone should meet back up at the mansion in six hours.
"I am not following them," Charlotte declared, crossing her arms. "I can see where they are going and I don't trust it, we are going somewhere else,"
This time Afina seemed to agree and they all continued onward.
"Hey Rual, you haven't spoken much since we got out here," Lucerne said, slipping up beside the tall purple Shifl.
"Sorry, I was just examining all the things here. I might split off here soon," he replied.
"Just keep an eye out for Avaro for me will you?" Lucerne asked and Rual nodded. "I can do that. It could be hard though, since his color scheme practically matches the town's color scheme."
Rual was right. The town was covered in pink, white, and red colors, and Lucerne didn't see what Avaro was wearing when he left so who knows what color clothing he could be wearing.
"Just try your best," Lucerne said as he watched the Shifl walk away.
"Did anyone see him leave?" He thought as he continued to follow the remaining three people.
Lucerne remembered Roxxan's words from earlier this morning, how OStar had said Avaro had left early.
"OStar must have seen him then!" Lucerne realized, picking up his pace a bit to catch up to the large white cat.
"Hey OStar, did you see Avaro this morning?" He asked once he was close enough.
"Uh, yeah. Me and him both leave our rooms at the same time and he informed me about all the decorations and stuff, as well as the festival," she replied.
"Did he tell you why he was leaving so early? And what was he wearing?"
OStar blinked at the questions.
"He didn't tell me why, cause I didn't ask and err, I think he was wearing his usual blue sweater," she finally answered after a moment of thinking. "Why you ask?"
"I was just going to look for him," Lucerne responded.
OStar looked as if she was going to say something, but kept her mouth closed. "You stay with Charlotte and Afina. I may have showed you around OCTown a day or two ago but it takes more than just a day to get to know your location. Unless you're super smart or something,"
"Don't worry, I have no intention of wandering off. Even if I do get lost I'll just get someone to direct me back to the mansion," OStar meowed, smiling a little.
Lucerne grinned and dropped back, watching the trio move on without him till they were swallowed up by the crowd.
Being careful not to bump into anyone, Lucerne sprouted a pair of dragon wings and took flight, hoping that he could see Avaro from the sky, or perhaps Avaro could see him from below. Assuming he was on the ground that is.
After a few minutes, Lucerne landed, failing to find any familiar pink hair.
"Oh well, maybe I'll just bump into him eventually," he sighed, deciding it was best to enjoy the festival for the time being rather than spending it in the air looking for one person amidst hundreds or even thousands.
As Lucerne made his way around the festival, stopping occasionally at the shops and activities, he began feeling an odd hole growing in his chest.
"Maybe I should find one of the others. None of this is very fun alone when its apparently about love toward your friends, family, or significant other..."
He quickly decided, sprouting wings once more, and rose into the pink sky.
After a few long minuets, he happened to spot a pair of people he didn't expect to find.
"Hey Nixon! Hey Abigail!" Lucerne called out to the two teens as he dropped towards the ground.
"It's just you two here?" He added once his feet were earthbound.
"Yeah, I'm just chilling with my brother cause his partner is unfortunately busy today and Flobris ditched him to hang out with Xin," Abigail replied.
"It sucks she couldn't make it today. She did promise to come tomorrow though," Nixon added with a sigh.
"Besides that, where's the rest of your group? Wasn't there like, five or six more of you?" Abigail pointed out.
"We split up... Come to think of it any of you two happen to see Avaro?" Lucerne responded.
The siblings shook their heads.
"No, sorry, you are the first one from the mansion we've seen so far," Nixon said. "But I could contact Flobris to see if he's seen him."
"Can't you contact Avaro instead?" Lucerne questioned.
"No, it only works for people in my family, though I am working on strengthening my powers so I can do more," the brother answered, a small mechanical eye drone materialized in the palm of his hand.
Lucerne watched the small grey object float into the air and zip off at lightning speed, after a few seconds it returned, and self destructed, making a tiny flash and pop noise.
"He says no," Nixon said, frowning. "Sorry Lucerne..."
"It's alright, I'll just hang with you guys for now. That's fine with you right?"
Abigail beamed and nodded, "Sure you can join! More friends means more fun!" She exclaimed and looked at her brother who just shrugged in agreement.
For the next three hours Lucerne traveled with the two siblings. The hole still lingered in his chest, but with Abigail's constant chatter he was able to ignore it and enjoy their company.
Eventually, Lucerne felt exhaustion tugging at him and he checked the time.
"Oh jeeze, sorry guys I gotta split. Roxxan wants us all to meet back at the mansion here soon," he said.
"Aw, that sucks," Abigail sighed, "I was hoping for the three of us to maybe find Avaro out here."
"Don't worry, we'll still keep an eye out for him," Nixon reassured.
Lucerne dipped his head, "Thanks guys. I may come back later, I don't know," he added before backing off with a wave to head toward the mansion alone.
He had lied to the two about having to leave soon. He still had over an hour left to wait, but knowing Abigail, if he told the truth she would've found a sneaky way to convince him to stay that extra hour.
So Lucerne made his way back home where the door unlocked upon his arrival.
"Good thing this place does that, without a key or anyone inside I would've been stuck out here" he thought as he stepped inside the quiet mansion.
A part of him expected Avaro to be there, but his friend was no where to be seen.
Lucerne sighed, enjoying the silence, and got himself a drink. Back at the festival, Abigail had frequently bought all kinds of food for the trio ranging from a sweet snack to a whole meal. So when Lucerne saw a tray of cookies on the center of the table, he left them alone, too full to bother with any more food.
He passed by his box of chocolates which he picked up and took to his room. He put the chocolates aside and examined the room, feeling as if something was out of place.
Though, even after searching the place, everything seemed normal.
Time passed slowly and Lucerne found himself waiting outside for his other friends, hoping that Avaro would be among them.
He spotted Roxxan and Estella first, who brought the news that Avaro was no where to be seen.
Charlotte showed up next with Afina and OStar along with Rual.
"I was expecting that I would have to wait longer than that," Lucerne commented when the group got together.
"I would've been here earlier if Afina hadn't stopped us just to get that dumb stuffed animal," Charlotte replied.
"It was a tiny angel with a heart! It looked cute! And its NOT an animal!" Afina hissed but a wide grin on her face.
"Yeah yeah so here's the plan, if you want to spend more time, go ahead. This goes on until one am tomorrow, Estella just wanted you all to at least spent five hours there," Roxxan interrupted before heading inside without another word.
"And if you do go out and see Avaro, tell him I need him," Estella added before following Roxxan.
Rual turned to Lucerne, grabbing the Celestial beast's attention.
"Did you see him?" Lucerne asked and Rual nodded.
"Only for a second, I tried to get his attention but he vanished so quickly..." The Shifl replied with a defeated expression.
Lucerne sighed. "As long as we know he's here and okay. Thanks, Rual," he responded, giving him a smile.
Rual looked slightly uncertain, but he nodded and slipped inside with the others.
Just as Lucerne expected, everyone decided to take a break, relaxing and putting away anything they had bought. Lucerne didn't buy anything for himself. Nixon and Abigail had offered him stuff, and he'd seen some interesting things, but he didn't bother to keep them.
Lucerne kept to his room, suddenly tired once again, but not enough to fall asleep. He ended up just laying on his bed.
Despite it being a holiday, Lucerne hadn't been able to enjoy it to the fullest. He was worried about Avaro, and missed him. Avaro almost always went with Lucerne whenever he went somewhere, and always had jokes up his sleeve to make Lucerne smile and laugh. He was his closest friend, known him since he was just a kid.
Lucerne sighed, wondering if the hole in his chest was due to the lack of appearance from his friend.
The day dragged on slowly. Both Rual and shockingly OStar, had come to see how Lucerne was feeling as the hours passed. He had lied to them, saying that his stomach was a little achey from too much chocolate, not wanting to tell them that he was just extremely worried and lonely.
"I don't want to ruin a holiday for other people just because of my emotions. Avaro will show up eventually, and everything will be fine." Lucerne thought as OStar hesitantly left his room. He checked the time, surprised to see how late it was.
"The sun should be going down soon..." He realized. "Maybe I should head back out again..."
After a few minuets of thinking, Lucerne got to his feet and headed over to the main room. This time being honest and telling the others that he was going to see if he could spot Avaro.
"Just don't go eating more sweets now," OStar warned as Lucerne made his way to the front door.
"I promise I wont. I have no plans to either," he responded as he stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
Lucerne was right about the time. The sky was already darkening from a pink to a purple.
"Maybe it'll be easier to find him with less people out..." He thought as he took to the air.
There were less people in OCTown this time, but there was still enough to get lost in if you weren't careful.
Lucerne glided toward the center of the town where a beautiful decorated fountain stood. He chose to start from the center where most people were at and work his way around, just as he should've done from the beginning.
Lucerne glanced at fountain as he landed, realizing that the lights in the water were already on as the sun went down.
"I wonder how it looks when its completely dark..." he thought, picturing the fountain with glowing pink water casting a glow on everything around it.
There was a sudden gentle tap on Lucerne's shoulder and he spun around, instantly recognizing the red eyes that looked at him
"Avaro!!!" He exclaimed, extremely surprised. Lucerne pulled his friend into a quick hug before stepping back to question him.
"Where have you been all day? Everyone's been looking for you! You had me worried something was wrong!" Lucerne scolded, trying hard not to sigh with relief.
"No, nothing's wrong. Sorry for worrying you and everyone else," Avaro replied, "I was just a little busy trying to set something up... Took a little longer than I expected,", he chuckled nervously.
Lucerne narrowed his eyes at his friend, "Is he hiding something?"
"Anyways, why are you out here alone? Where's everyone else?" Avaro continued.
"They're all back at the mansion relaxing. Some may come back out later. I'm just the first one out, looking for you," Lucerne replied, shoving Avaro's shoulder.
Avaro laughed, "Well good thing you did! Follow me,"
"Why?" Lucerne asked but Avaro was already flying off, so he quickly followed without an answer.
Lucerne tried to ask again, but the wind whisked his words away, so he continued to follow Avaro to wherever he was taking him to find out himself.
He felt a chill along his spine as he exited the OCTown force field. The sky suddenly turning to its usual color while the grass changed back to green. The sweet smell was gone, now replaced by the smell of wood and leaves from the forest ahead.
Avaro twisted his head to look back at Lucerne.
"Almost there!" He shouted, suddenly diving down.
Lucerne faltered for a moment, knowing he couldn't dive. It would be better if he slowly descended.
"Can you explain all this now?" He asked once his feet touched the ground.
"Not yet," Avaro replied, moving onward. Lucerne let out a sigh and continued to follow, recognizing the path that lead to a treeless hill in the middle of the forest.
"What did Avaro do today?!" He thought, quickening his pace to walk beside Avaro.
"Its over here," he said, pushing through some bushes.
Curiosity poked at Lucerne as the hill opened up before him. A large object was centered in the middle, covered by a large sheet of some sort.
"What is that?" He asked.
"Well, go see," Avaro replied simply, a wide grin on his face.
Lucerne hesitated, but slowly moved to the object and grasped the sheet in his hand.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Avaro flutter his wings in excitement.
"Well, lets see what this day was leading up to,"
With a strong pull Lucerne yanked off the sheet and threw it aside. Blinking rapidly, he tried to determine what was in front of him.
It was a massive telescope that pointed to the sky, the setting sun shimmering on the polished metal.
Lucerne's eyes widened.
"Avaro, what is..." He started.
"It's a telescope. A hundred times better than the one Roxxan and Estella have. I know you love space and all, so I managed to work my way up to get this!" Avaro answered, still beaming.
"How did you get this? Who did you get it from??" Lucerne asked, astounded.
"Well, it was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I couldn't get all the materials in time. You also knew about that, so I had to get someone to temporarily fog your memory so you wouldn't figure it out before I could finish getting everything from that trader," his friend admitted.
"So THAT'S why I couldn't remember Christmas!" Lucerne realized.
"But don't worry! It'll all be fine tomorrow," Avaro reassured.
Lucerne narrowed his eyes, but honestly didn't care much.
"Why...did you work so hard just to get this for me?" He finally asked, resting a hand gently on the side of the telescope.
"Well, I mean... You're my closest friend. And I owe you my life. If it wasn't for you I'd either still be running or dead. And besides, seeing you smile makes me smile," Avaro replied with a soft smile.
Lucerne turned toward his friend, speechless.
He felt the hole in his chest gradually vanish, filling up with a soothing warmth that made Lucerne want to lay down in the grass and relax by his friend.
Avaro seemed to have noticed Lucerne's reaction and chuckled a bit.
"There's still a bit of time before all the stars are out, should we head back to the festival?" He offered.
Lucerne blinked, every brain cell wanted to accept.
"There's a special feature that allows that telescope to convert into pocket size so we can bring it with us," Avaro said, stepping over to hit a button.
The telescope glowed and with a loud snap it shrunk into a small sphere the size of a marble.
Lucerne bent down and picked up the ball, still unable to find the words that had left him.
"Come on, lets go. I can see you want to head back to the festival," Avaro laughed with a flap of his wings.
"But... I forgot to get you a gift!!!" Lucerne suddenly burst out, feeling horrible and selfish.
Avaro barked out another laugh.
"Just hanging out with you is enough," he said with a wink.
Lucern felt his face grow hot and he crossed his arms.
"We live in the same house, you hang out with me practically every day," he pointed out.
Avaro's eyes widen with fake surprise. "Wow that's a lot of gifts then," he joked.
Lucerne shook his head with a smile and chuckled a bit.
"Lets just go you big idiot. I'll find you something amazing whether you want me to or not," he promised, letting his wings sprout to pull him into the darkening sky.
Lucerne heard Avaro's wingbeats close behind him and together the two made their way back to OCTown.
The hole in his chest was completely gone now and felt nothing more than an old memory soon to be forgotten.

"I should tell him," Avaro thought as he flew through the sky, the sweet smelling air flowed through his hair as he passed through the invisible force field.
A small voice perked up from the back of his head, telling him to wait.
"I can't wait forever though, I can't expect everything to just come to me,"
Of all the things in Avaro's life, he had never had trouble speaking his mind. But today, every word came out strangely and he found himself frequently being self conscious about the way he spoke and constantly had an odd tightness in his chest.
"Does he even understand this feeling? It's been over then thousand years for him. Surely he had to have felt it at some point, even if it was just for a moment..."
Avaro felt a pang of jealousy and pushed it away, focusing on landing correctly and not crash landing.
"Do me a favor and don't get me anything sweet. I'm pretty sure if I ate any more I'd have a real stomach ache," Lucerne said as they landed.
"Alright, I wont. I'll just find some storable kinds," Avaro replied with a grin.
Lucerne scowled at him with a smile and walked ahead, most likely looking for some place where he could snag up a sweet gift for Avaro.
"We're just friends..." Avaro thought as he followed, but deep down he knew there was something more. And with a big smile, he promised himself to make sure Lucerne had the greatest night ever. To not let a single remaining second of the festival be without Lucerne smiling.

~Endless Sky~ (MINI STORY) OCTown's Valentines FestivalRead this story for FREE!