Lack of Inspiration
Lisa sighed angrily and flung the sparkly red paint across
the room. The faint sunlight shining down through the narrow window of her underground
home reflected off the glitter in the paint, reflecting in her sad blue eyes.
The white Bori kicked the easel away and fled
the small cavern. After all that hard work, she'd made one bad stroke and ruined
it all: the best thing she'd ever painted, a surprise for the Keeper of Time.
For years she had lived in this cave off the
main caverns where most of the Boris lived. She had a few loyal friends who
still dared to visit the constantly frustrated artist, and the Keeper of Time
occasionally got off his throne and talked to her.
The world she couldn't see was her inspiration.
Imagination was her sketchbook, and paint was merely her way of having a permanent
record of things, but her originality was fading. For years she'd had a good
market for her paintings, for their imagination was something rarely seen in
Neopian markets then. But now, many much better artists were copying her style,
and she was losing. Losing to a better, younger generation.
She charged past the guards at the mouth of
her cavern, scattering them with the shock of her frustration. Crowds of Boris
of all colors parted for her. Her eyes swam in floods of tears, mixing together
colors: red, green, silver, yellow, blue, and brown, in a kaleidoscope of perfection
unlike anything ever achieved by any Neopian painter. Saddened by her thoughts,
she fled the caverns completely and ran out into the snow.
Hours later, Lisa found herself sitting at the
foot of Terror Mountain, looking out over the northland forests toward Meridell
and Neopia Central. Maybe it was time for a fresh start in something. All her
life had been spent in the Ice Caves or in deep dark pits where her imagination
could run wild, undisturbed by the rest of the world. Perhaps it was time to
get a little light in her life.
Lisa got up from the cold grey boulder she had
been sitting on for the past few hours. Legs and back aching, she knew she couldn't
go back for her things. She needed to start over, get everything new. That,
and there was no way she was going to walk all the way back to the caverns.
At least not today.
Her black claws gripped the smooth stone with
ease as she made her way down from the final stretch of Terror Mountain. The
forest spread out before her like an endless sea of green, an unconquerable
foe. She'd heard tales from many a Bori who went out adventuring about wild
Lupe packs, treacherous poachers, and many other dangers that lurked in the
shadows of these woods. Lisa had no food, water, or weapons. She didn't know
where she was going, and she didn't know what she'd find out there, but in all
honesty, she didn't care. Perhaps a little adventure was all she needed to find
her inspiration again.
She discovered a narrow path at the edge of
the trees and followed it carefully, making as little noise as possible with
her clumsy claws. The wind through the trees wasn't as bitterly cold as it was
on the mountain, but it had a bite unlike anything she'd ever felt before. The
sunset was completely blocked out; little light filtered in through the thick
trees. The faint chirping of birds somewhere to the north only made the silence
Suddenly, a howl sliced through the forest.
Lisa leapt off the path and into the brush. Fear overtook her every sense as
more howls came from all around her. Thorns tore at her muddy fur. Her claws
scraped over sharp rocks and scattered leaves everywhere. Suddenly, a forest
green Lupe appeared behind her, a fierce snarl springing from his throat, his
gleaming white teeth bared in a way that was definitely not friendly.
Lisa whimpered and ran harder. Her heart pounded.
Exhaustion rushed through her. Just then, the brush ended. A sheer cliff rose
up before her feet. She let out a shriek and tried desperately to grab something
but to no avail. Lisa tumbled off the cliff, screaming. As she fell, she almost
thought she could see the Lupe watching her with horror in his jade-green eyes.
Lisa's eyes fluttered open. She lay on a bed
of jagged rocks, but she was not bleeding. Her greatest hurt was half a dozen
blackening bruises on her back. Plus two wrenched ankles. She groaned and tried
to sit up. If only she could get off these rocks….the pain might be less. But
no, she couldn't move.
To distract herself, she thought of what colors
she would be right then. Red, perhaps, for the pain. Purple and black for the
bruises. A glob of mud fell from her ear. Of course, brown for the mud. How
colorful she felt right then! She had never had such a wide variety before.
It was normally red for anger, blue for peace, yellow for discontent, but never
had she had more than one overall theme in a picture. Perhaps this journey was
already doing her good.
She closed her eyes and tried to imagine what
she would look like. It wasn't a very pretty sight, but it was good for a laugh.
A dazed, mud-coated, bedraggled Bori lying in a bed of sharp gray rocks with
black-purple bruises in a clearing of a forest of thick pine trees. Ah, that
would make an interesting picture. She could call it…End of the Chase. Hmm...
not bad, but she would have more time to work on it.
A cold nose jabbing her cheek broke off her
thoughts. At least, I hope I'll have more time. Her eyes fluttered open
and looked straight into a familiar pair of jade-green eyes.
"Shh, don't say anything," the Lupe whispered
in a lilting voice, heavily accented. "I'm here to help you hide."
"Fr.." A furry paw clasped her mouth shut. The
Lupe whistled softly, and two other Lupes emerged from the brush. One was a
rich dark brown, like the color of earth. The other was blacker than a starless
night with eyes of silver. Both eyed the forest green Lupe in wonder but carried
her into the bushes without complaint.
Hours later, they set her down inside a cave.
They had backtracked along many trails, struggled through thick brush and trees,
across streams, under waterfalls, and through a maze of caverns to bring her
out on the west side of a jagged hill. They had no fire going, but the bed of
leaves and pine boughs Lisa slept in was warm and comfortable. For awhile, the
three Lupes sat silently, staring deep into each other's eyes. Then, after the
sun had completely set, they drew the bed of pine boughs, Lisa still on it,
behind a cluster of rocks and vanished back into the tunnels.
Lisa knew nothing of this, for she'd fallen
asleep maybe two hours into the journey. Unconscious was a wave of peace she
welcomed after narrowly escaping death. She slept dreamlessly and made no sound.
The next morning, she woke up feeling more refreshed
than she ever had before. Golden red sunlight streamed in from outside the small
niche where she lay. Lisa crawled out and, stretching her sore and bruised muscles,
crept to the entrance.
The light didn't come in directly, and the shadows
fell outside the entrance, so Lisa knew she was on the west side of something
large. Perhaps a mountain, maybe a hill. The Lupes were gone and had left her
nothing to eat, and her stomach was complaining bitterly, so she sneaked from
the tunnel and into the brush.
A bush not far from the cavern's mouth offered
some delicious berries, which she ate most of, and a fresh water spring refreshed
her thirst. Unknowingly, her steps led her farther and farther away from the
cave and deeper into the trees. By the time she realized her mistake, Lisa was
far from the cave in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by howls. She sprang
into one of the nearest trees and scrambled as high as possible through the
thick branches. At least a dozen Lupes, with shades varying from a ruby red
to a brilliant silver, pale blues and bright yellows, surrounded the base of
the tree, snarling angrily.
She could tell that these were the same Lupes
from the last chase, for their growls were actually a quite pleasant mixing
of high and low pitches. Well, being pleasant musically was one of their better
Lisa sighed and climbed higher, digging her
thick claws into the tree. Birds scattered as she came upon them, and the wind
grew stronger the higher she struggled. The howling grew fainter and fainter
until she got to the tree top. The branches beyond her would break if she stepped
She looked back down and saw the Lupes casually
waiting at the foot of the tree. Since they were clearly going nowhere, Lisa
decided to get moving. Pivoting around from the thickest tree branch she could
find, she swung around to the opposite side of the tree and carefully jumped
into the next pine. She went along like this through thick pine needles and
branches undisturbed for a few moments before the Lupe pack noted her absence
and smelled her direction on the wind. With a fresh chorus of snarls, they charged
into the forest.
Lisa heard them and started running. She was
lower in the tree now and deeper into the forest than anyone had been in many
years, and the branches had grown so thick and large that they'd woven together
to form a sort of flooring twenty feet off the ground. She sprang across gaps
and charged blindly across the floor. Branches snapped under her as she ran,
her heart pounding so loud she thought the Lupes would hear it. Her breath came
in short gasps; her aching back returned to haunt her.
Suddenly, she noticed a stream of light coming
in from ahead. Lisa renewed her hopes and pressed on. The floor abruptly ended,
and she tumbled onto... sand? What was this? Lisa leapt to her feet and stood
stonily for a few seconds. She wasn't in the trees anymore. She was on a beach
by a sparkling sea. Across it, she could clearly see Brightvale Castle, and
in the distance, Meridell. She'd made it through.
Hot breath on her heels reminded her instantly
of where she was. She took off like a shot and dove into the water. The first
thing she discovered about water was that Boris couldn't swim very well; it
was impossible to paddle with claws. She came back up sputtering and clinging
to a log. Her hind legs, fortunately, were strong, and soon she was heading
for the opposite side of the channel.
Lisa glanced back for a moment and saw the Lupes
congregating on the beach. A fire Lupe came striding out of the woods and saw
her watching. He smiled thinly and saluted her, a tribute to her bravery and
escape. She saluted him back and was about to turn away when she saw a forest
green Lupe with jade-green eyes silently step up beside the fiery alpha. He
waved and smiled; she returned the kind gesture.
Turning away, she paddled on. The channel wasn't
too wide. She should reach Brightvale by nightfall. But for some reason, she
had a feeling that those jade-green eyes would haunt her no matter where she
went in Neopia. And strangely, she didn't think she'd mind.
Escape is cliché in a way that no one can
truly understand the joy of it.