Fireworks are exploding across the skyline, houses were decorated with firecrackers and lanterns, people were putting on their appealing outfits for the event coming tonight.
The Lunar Revel event has returned.
Annie was sitting lonely on the second floor of a pagoda. She took out a pack of red envelopes from a drawer and filled them with her Lunar Revel Tokens and wrote a name she knew on each of the envelope. Having written her name onto the last envelope, she quietly sat down next to Tibbers. She lightly smiled, but that smile soon turned into sadness.
She wanted to give out those enveloped to find a friend to hang out with during the event. She did this every year, but all the efforts were in vain. To everyone, she was a weird girl that couldn't fit in with anyone. Tibbers, her beloved panda, was the only friend she had.
"Tibbers, isn't it nice to have lots of friends? Maybe just one more, one more that will hang out with us this year!"
A purple portal suddenly opened up at the center of the room. In a brief second, a girl flied out of the portal and crashed onto the table, destroying everything in the process.
"Ow, that hurts!"
Annie stared the strange girl with caution. However, the girl quickly noticed it and quickly prevented a fight.
"Hey, don't fight! I'm Zoe! You're..." - She remembers something - "Oh! You're the girl with fire hands and that cursed bear. You're the Dark Child, Annie!"
"How did you know that?" - Annie surprised - "And my Tibbers is not cursed! He's my friend, and he's a panda!"
"I saw you elsewhere, in another world! And what's a panda?"
"Y-You don't know what a panda is?"
Zoe nodded, but quickly pushed that topic aside.
"Anyway, I gotta go now! I've got another mission to complete! Bye!"
Zoe pointed her hand at the wall to open the portal, then dived towards it. However, the portal didn't open, and she instead ended up crashing harder into the wooden wall.
"Wait, what's wrong with my spell?" - Zoe mumbled as she kept pointing her hand randomly
She made a few more attempts, but nothing happened. Eventually, she gave up and lied down in disappointment.
"Well Annie, I guess I'll be stuck in this universe for a while" - She sighed - "Could you tell me what mortal world am I in right now?"
"I'm not sure what "universes" you are talking about, but in this world we celebrate an event called "Lunar Revel" - Annie replies hesitantly.
"Please, you have to take me with you whenever you go out to, you know, visiting places, hanging out, and just have fun! I want to see your super super amazing universe!"
To her surprise, Annie agreed without even thinking about it.
"Wow! This place is amazing! Full of colours, lights, decorations and delicious food! What a super awesome world!"
Annie has nearly spent all her gold that she saved throughout the year to hang out at the 47th restaurant, yet she still wanted to take her to the next one for some reason.
"Don't you feel... full... at all?"
"Nope!" - said Zoe with her mouth filled - "I've abandoned my mortality for a long time. Eating, to me, has become ouone of my hobbies, not a necessity."
Annie had been having fun when Zoe was with her. She actively stood up and took her through the village. After visiting every house there was, they ventured into the woods at the outskirt of the town.
"So Annie, I still don't get one thing." - Zoe abruptly asked - "There are twelve animals corresponding to the animal zodiac for each year - as you said, right? I don't see any pandas in there, though.
Hearing the heartbreaking question, Annie quietly confessed:
"I knew it was weird for a panda to be related to the festival whatsoever, but that was what Tibbers is, just a panda. I wanted my friend to not be left out at the party, so I decided to go along with the theme. But people said that I was weird, that I shouldn't be here. We... we were all alone."
"Hey! That was so mean!" - said angered Zoe - "I still don't know what a panda is, but it's still so, so cool! No, YOU are cool!"
"Really? Do you really think so!" - Annie raised her head to look at her.
"Of course not! You poor little girl."
A strange spirit was standing behind them. From the clear appearance of the two chains on his arms, it was clear to Zoe that he was Sylas.
"Two stupid girls hanging out here, are you looking for trouble?"
He laughed maniacally at their child-like appearance. Suddenly, he noticed something in Annie's inventory: A pack of red envelopes.
"Those envelopes..." - he grinned - "Were you with the gang with that pig back there? They shot me and made me look at everything in black and white for over a minute! Now, give them to me, or I'll give you that same two-colour scene that I saw."
Shortly after finishing his words, he hurled his chains towards Annie. She tried to protect the envelopes, but the chain was aiming at something else on her hand.
A big explosion shook the entire forest. Then another one followed. Deep inside the woods, there were two identical bears fighting against each other.
"Now, let's burn you two down with-"
There was a third explosion right at his face. It was a blast from a star. When he stole Annie's power, Zoe had already been behind his back.
"What a metaphor threat you cleverly used it, but I'm sure you'll be the one to go down! Bleh!"
His dark face turned bright red due to the anger started by that blast. He ordered the bear to keep Annie busy, while focusing his attention to Zoe. She cast a sleep bubble, but the speed of his dash helped him avoid the spell. Fast as the wind, his chains grabbed Zoe by the neck, pulling him at her and hitting her repeatedly
Zoe threw a few more Paddle Stars at him, but her HP was draining faster than his. Soon, she fell down on the grass with a shred of health left.
"Little girl, have you ever imagined a day when you get killed by your own ultimate ability? Well, it's time for you to experience it yourself!"
The magical chain grabbed Zoe's left arm and pulled out a strange glow of power. Holding the power in his hand, he gave it a look then used the ability.
"Prepare to DIE!" - he screamed.
A purple portal opened up on the tree behind her. It suck him, then warped him to the other side of the tree, where the exit was. A second later, the portal put him back to where he was before.
"Wait..." - he looked at her with confusion - "What can you even do with this? It's your ULTIMATE ability, right?"
"It helps when I want to throw things at people's back side." - Zoe laughed - "But sometimes, I just stand behind you when they want to kill you!"
A fireball was blasted directly at his back. Although he was stunned by the spell, he could clearly hear Tibbers raging towards the target - which was him. Two strikes from the panda bear was enough to knock down the shocked Unshackled.
Annie rushed in and helped Zoe stand up. They looked at the burned body on the ground and laughed innocently.
"Thanks for the help, Annie! Now the enemy has been slain, and my portal power is fixed! I guess I should give him a thank."
"But... doesn't that mean you have to go back to your mission you mentioned earlier?"
They stood silently in front of each other. They wanted to continue playing for longer, but they both knew that something was more important than another.
"It's okay, the mission is of course more important. Thanks for hanging out with me the whole time. It was really, really fun."
Annie paused a bit and took a deep breath, as if she was trying to hold her tears.
"Just before you go, though, I want to take this. It's my Red Envelope, or "lucky money", as some people called."
She placed the Red Envelope on Zoe's hand. For the first time in many years, Zoe felt strangely due to her human emotions rising up. She slowly took the envelope, and gave Annie a deep hug.
"Being out with you was the most fun thing I've ever done since forever! I promise, when my mission is over, I will return to this universe and find you, then we can hang out with each other, again! I promise!"
Zoe finally let her go, and unwillingly opened the portal. She waved goodbye to her new friend before disappearing into the void. From afar, Annie could still see the glowing red from the envelope before the portal finally closed.
(END - 1499 words)