There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 182,656,530 Issue: 231 | 16th day of Running, Y8
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Once Upon A Cold Winter's Day...


by tou403

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It was a cold winter's day in Meridell. A raging blizzard swept the land. Trees and bushes alike were stripped of their lush leaves and Meridell was suffocated with a thick, cold blanket of snow. Everyone was inside, sitting close to the fireplace and sipping nervously on hot borovan, fearing the worst from the blizzard. It was a blizzard to end all blizzards. Tension was high between my brother, Leo, and me since we had been cooped up in the house for so long. The smallest things would set us off, fuming and raging. We were getting snappy with each other and a huge argument would've broken out if our dear old Granny Marie had not intervened. She had had enough of our bickering and offered to tell us a story.

     "Goodness, I haven't ever seen two Chias who fight like the two of you! I have an idea, why don't I tell you two a story?" she remarked with a twinkle in her eye as she put her knitting aside.

     Leo grunted in disdain and rolled his eyes. "No stories, Granny," he huffed.

     I, on the other hand, was delighted and said so.

     Leo grunted again and shot me a rude smirk. "Only Zephyr would like something as girly as stories!"

     I glared at him and was thinking about slugging him when Granny Marie stepped between us yet again and handed me, then Leo, a steaming cup of hot vanilla flavored borovan.

     "Now sit," she ordered in a tone implying no argument, placing us on either side of her.

     She sat back down in her rocking chair with a contented sigh and took up her knitting once again.

     "Hmm, let's see, why don't I tell you two the story of how the Brain Tree and the Money Tree came to be," she said softly, looking at the fireplace which roared in front of us and made shadows dance on her old, weathered face.

     "The Brain Tree and the Money Tree? Weren't they here since, like, Neopia began?!" I asked incredulously.

     Granny Marie chuckled softly, "Oh no, dear Zephyr, not at all. In fact, the Brain Tree and the Money Tree were once normal Chias, just like you two!" Forgetting our animosity, Leo and I looked at each other over her lap, surprised.

     "So, what? They became the Brain Tree and the Money Tree?" Leo asked, as skeptical as I.

     "Oh let me start!" Granny Marie huffed. I shrugged at Leo and snuggled closer to Granny Marie. She was silent for a while, the sounds of the howling wind, the crackling fire, her knitting needles, and us blowing on our borovan filled the small one-room house. After a moment Granny Marie finally began:

     ---

     Once upon a time, when Neopia was still young, two mischievous little Chias were trying to pull off a prank. Their names were Lephyr and Zeo. Lephyr was the brains of any prank the two pulled and Zeo…well let's just say Zeo was the muscle, the strong guy. Anyways, this prank of theirs wasn't good-natured at all; actually it was quite malicious. They were going to ambush whoever walked past them in the forest, and while Lephyr threw Slorg flakes on the petpets of passers-by, Zeo would wrap the target tightly in a cloth and roll them into a nearby lake while both friends stood back and laughed…quite malicious indeed. Queen Fyora had been flying by at the time and spotted them huddling suspiciously behind a large boulder. Many had appealed to Queen Fyora to do something about Lephyr and Zeo, but they were good at evading her, until now. Smiling coldly, she appeared right before the two in a puff of purple-pink smoke.

     "Whoa!" Both cried out in surprise and jumped back as Queen Fyora coolly gazed down at them.

     "Well, well, well. Look at whom I've found, the infamous Lephyr and Zeo!" she said, folding her arms over her chest. Well, as you might have already guessed, Lephyr and Zeo were absolutely terrified!

     "We're done for, this is it!" Zeo whimpered, grabbing Lephyr's arm.

     "Oh stop it, Zeo!" Lephyr said, yanking his arm away and trying to sound brave. Rather rudely, he said to the Queen, "Yeah, we're Lephyr and Zeo! What do you want us for!?" Queen Fyora's face was as straight as stone as she wondered how she should punish the two. A splendid idea popped into her glorious mind.

     "I have a quest for the two of you!" she announced imperially.

     Lephyr grunted. "Why would we do a quest for you?" he asked with a sneer.

     Zeo looked at him, horrified. "No, he didn't mean it, Your Majesty!" Zeo amended while executing a messy bow.

     "If the two of you do this quest for me, I will grant you each one wish," she replied.

     "Really? One wish? And we can wish for anything we want?" asked an awestruck Zeo.

     "Well, of course!" the Queen replied, flashing them a royal smile.

     "Wait! Wait just a second! What if we don't do your quest?" asked Lephyr, feeling a little braver. But whatever bravery he had felt melted away the moment Queen Fyora glared at him with a venomous anger.

     "If you don't, you will suffer the greatest punishment of all!" she thundered imperiously.

     Lephyr and Zeo cringed at her tone and immediately started apologizing and blubbering about accepting her quest, not stopping to wonder what the greatest punishment of all even was.

     "Good, now, find me…a Power Negg Window!" she exclaimed, saying the first thing that came to her regal mind.

     "Yes, Your Majesty, of course, Your Majesty," Lephyr and Zeo mumbled in unison.

     "And when you find my Power Negg Window, I want you two to return to this exact spot with it!" she ordered, staring down at the two quivering Chias in front of her.

     "Yes, Your Majesty, of course, Your Majesty," they mumbled again, too terrified to say anything else.

     "Very well, now be gone!" she ordered, sending them scurrying out of the woods as fast as their little Chia legs could take them.

     ---

     Panting, Lephyr and Zeo lowered themselves onto a fallen tree and thought about what they were going to do.

     "I've…I've got ten neopoints on me," Zeo said, digging around in his pocket.

     "Are you crazy?! We aren't going to actually buy a Power Negg Window! Who knows how much those things cost!" Lephyr snapped, as he started collecting four sturdy twigs.

     "But, but if we don't do her quest, she's gonna…she's gonna…" Zeo trailed off, sounding to be on the verge of tears.

     Lephyr sighed in exasperation and turned to Zeo, "What we're going to do is make her one!" he said, smiling as he brandished the twigs.

     Seeing the confusion on his friend's face, Lephyr explained, "We'll just make her a fake Power Negg Window, we get our wishes and she gets her window…and no one is the wiser!"

     Understanding dawned on Zeo's face as Lephyr described what they were going to do. You'd be surprised what a couple of Chias could do with some sticks, colourful leaves and a little bit of imagination…

     ----

     Queen Fyora sat regally upon a branch, concealed by lush green leaves. She was waiting for Lephyr and Zeo at the appointed spot. She was sure that they would learn their lessons because they would surely apologize for their misdeeds after she granted them their wishes. Smiling contentedly, she waited. Suddenly, the sound of bushes rustling and leaves cracking gave way to Lephyr and Zeo, as they made their way to the big boulder where their fateful meeting with Queen Fyora had occurred. She almost clapped her hands with delight as she saw them carrying something that looked very much like a Power Negg Window. She was about to congratulate the two when she noticed that the window looked a little leafy.

     "Do ya think she'll fall for it?" she heard Zeo whisper hoarsely.

     "Be quiet! She might hear us!" Lephyr whispered, clutching the 'window' to his chest. Queen Fyora ground her teeth in anger as she realized that they were planning to trick her! She had no idea what the two had made the window out of, but it didn't matter. They were trying to trick her, her, Queen Fyora! Keeping her temper in check, she appeared before the two in another puff of purple-pink smoke.

     "Well, I see you two have…completed my quest," she said coolly, no hint of a smile on her face. Actually, she was hoping that the two would confess. But sadly, all Lephyr and Zeo did was agree and hand her the window.

     "Fine," she said snottily, holding the window so tightly with anger that her knuckles turned white. "What is your wish, Lephyr?"

     Lephyr noticed the strength of her fingers and, fearing that the leaves would rip, he quickly blurted out his wish, "I want to be the smartest in ALL of Neopia!"

     For a moment she just stared at him, wondering how anyone could be so deceitful. She knew just what to do with him.

     "Of course," she said softly, and quietly clapped her hands. Lephyr disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Zeo to stare at where his friend had been just a moment before.

     "What…what'd you do to Lehpyr?" he asked.

     "What is your wish, Zeo?" Queen Fyora asked, ignoring his question.

     Zeo thought for a moment, then his face lit up as he replied, "I want to be the richest, kindest in all of Neopia!"

     Queen Fyora almost smiled. Not only had he asked to be rich, he also wanted to be kind!

     Sensing that he wasn't as fraudulent as his friend but still angry with him for trying to trick her, she said, "Of course."

     With a clap of her hands, Zeo disappeared too.

     ---

     I stared at Granny Marie, waiting for her to continue.

     "Well, what happened?" asked Leo breathlessly.

     I stared at him, surprised at his enthusiasm. After I had gotten over the disbelief of having the two characters' names suspiciously close to Leo's and mine, the story had held me in its grasp.

     "Well, that's it," Granny Marie replied, not looking up from her knitting. For a moment neither of us spoke, wondering what Granny Marie meant by stopping the story so suddenly. After a minute of unbearable silence, we burst out at once.

     "What happened to Zeo?"

     "What about the brain tree?"

     "Yeah! And the money tree, what happened?"

     "Did Queen Fyora actually change them?"

     The barrage of questions stopped as Granny Marie raised her hand for silence.

     "Boys, boys, you didn't really think I would end it there, did you?" she asked, looking at Leo then at me.

     We both sighed in unison.

      "Okay, so, what happened?" Leo asked again.

     Granny Marie sighed. Looking indecisive, she glanced down at her unfinished knitting and back up at us.

     "Well, Lephyr got his wish. He became the smartest in all of Neopia. Queen Fyora turned him into the Brain Tree, partly to grant his wish but mostly to punish him. He was always being unkind not only to everyone, but to his own best friend, Zeo. Even now, he taunts people with his hard questions and only reluctantly gives away rewards. But Zeo's wish, on the other hand, wasn't that selfish. So Queen Fyora made him rich, she made him the Money Tree, who is always rich with items. But he doesn't hoard them; he kindly gives them away to whoever wants them. And that is how the Brain Tree and the Money Tree came to be." Granny Marie finished with a sigh as she put her knitting aside and rose to stretch.

     "Wow, that was…a good one, Granny Marie," Leo said, looking up at her.

     "I'm glad you liked it," she said, patting him softly on the cheek.

     "Well, look at that!" she exclaimed suddenly, walking over to the window.

     Leo and I ran over and looked outside and gasped. The blizzard had stopped but the snow was high, untouched and glistening white.

     "Oh Granny, may we please go out to play?" I asked, running over to where our coats were hung up.

     "Yeah, can we? Please, Granny?" Leo asked, zipping up his jacket and pulling on his mittens.

     "Of course you can," Granny Marie said with a laugh. As Leo rushed out the door, I stayed back, wondering how to thank Granny Marie for that wonderful story.

     "Granny Marie?" I called, walking up to where she was settling down and taking up her knitting.

     "Yes Zephyr?" she asked, smiling warmly.

     "I, I just wanted to thank you, for, for telling us that story…it taught me to treat others kindly and I, just wanted to thank you," I muttered, wondering why I was feeling so shy.

     Granny Marie seemed just as regal as Queen Fyora at that moment, smiling down at me benevolently as she took my hands into hers and said, "You're welcome, Zephyr; now, take care and have fun for me out there on the snow with your brother."

     I looked up at her, grinning from ear to ear and promised her I would.

     "Oh, Granny, one more thing," I said, turning around to face her, "Their names weren't really Lephyr and Zeo…were they?"

     Granny Marie chuckled and said, "Of course not, dear; their real names have been forgotten over time, but their message has not."

     Only Granny Marie would say something like that. Beaming at her one last time, I rushed out the door to join Leo.

The End

Author's Note: I wrote this story, hoping for something original. I hope everyone likes it ^_^

 
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