Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 128,455,649 Issue: 262 | 20th day of Collecting, Y8
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Snow on the Brightvale Hills: Part One


by queen_aingeal

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The sky was deep grey, seeming to be on the verge of daylight. A light snow was falling to the white-blanketed hills below. Not a soul was stirring on this winter morning. Except for one.

      Telperion played and rolled in the powdery snow, his tiny figure at times a mere blue blur. The baby Lupe loved the snow dearly, and it was so rare that they got it in Brightvale, where he and his family lived. Usually, their winters were just cold and grey and dismal. Snow seemed to make winter... warmer, in a way.

      In any case, Telperion had woken early to be the first to touch the flawless mantle of white that sheltered the hills and rooftops of his village. He flopped back into the snow and smiled up at the gradually lightening sky, watching the snow gently drift down and alight on his face, like icy faeries. He closed his eyes and lay blissfully among the drifts of white powder.

      "Telperion!!" called a voice after a few minutes. The baby Lupe sat up and shook the snow off of his coat, looking around to see who had called him. "Telperion!" the voice called again, and Telperion recognized it at once. He got up and ran over to the Tyrannian Lupe storming out the door of their house.

      "Hi, Falanor," Telperion said, sounding disappointed at the arrival of his brother. "What is it?"

      Falanor looked enraged. His coarse blue fur was bristling and his tail lashed back and forth. "Why are you out here at six in the morning in the snow??" he demanded of his younger brother. "Tabby went in to check on you and you weren't there and she PANICKED!! She woke everyone else up and they're searching the whole house and if you don't come in this instant I'll set Jhudora on you!!"

      Ten seconds later Telperion was in the house getting dried off with a warm towel, while Tabitha (his owner) made hot cocoa and fretted about him. The teenage girl had clearly just woken up, as her short blonde hair was dishevelled and sticking up in odd spikes all over her head. "I was so worried about you," she said, handing around steaming mugs to the three pets and taking one for herself.

      "Well, if you ask me," said Gemini as she dried off her little brother, "I don't see what the problem is. It's snowing. We all know that Telperion loves the snow, and he doesn't see it enough as it is. Of COURSE he'd be outside. And why shouldn't he be?" The Starry Lupe smiled at Telperion, and he smiled back, grateful to have his sister on his side.

      "I'm just happy you're safe," Tabby said, kissing Telperion on the head as he sipped his cocoa.

      Gemini sighed. "Of COURSE he's safe. For Fyora's sake, what could hurt him out there?"

      "Werelupes," Falanor said quietly. The small kitchen went silent, and as if on cue the wind outside let out a howl.

      "What do you mean?" Tabby asked in a hushed voice. Falanor silently put down that week's issue of the Neopian Times and the family crowded around it. In a shaking voice filled with terror, Tabby read the article out loud. " 'Citizens of Neopia should remain in their homes until further notice,' " she read, " 'because it has come to our attention that the Werelupes of the Haunted Woods are currently on the prowl. These creatures can come out at any time. They are highly dangerous and will attack any Neopet they see, especially... ' " Tabby fell silent and covered her face with her hands. Falanor grimly continued.

      " ' They are highly dangerous and will attack any Neopet they see, especially young Lupes, to recruit into their devilish packs. But everyone is at risk, for we regret to inform you that these creatures are not picky. They will attack owners, Neopets, and even faeries. Updates are to be expected as information continues. If someone you know is attacked, do not, we repeat, DO NOT try to help them. Run away as fast as you can and hide in your home. Consider the victim a lost cause.' "

      Tabby began to cry and ran upstairs into her bedroom. Gemini hugged Telperion close to her, and the little Lupe could feel her heart racing. Falanor, for his part, ripped out the article and stuck it on the refrigerator. He then turned to Telperion, his yellow eyes wet. "If you ever go out without telling us where you are again..." he said, then just turned and walked away.

      Telperion, for his part, stood in shock. He scrambled out of Gemini's arms and went to the window. The sun was up, although the sky was still slate-grey, and the snow was dazzlingly white. He longed to go out and play, but he knew he couldn't. Not anymore. The thought struck him into deep depression.

     For three days, Brightvale was silent and afraid. No one dared to go outside, though King Hagan issued a statement saying that they were in minimal danger. The people knew that they were the closest to the Haunted Woods. Then, on the fourth day after the announcement appeared in the Neopian Times, Falanor disappeared.

      They found his room empty and ransacked early in the morning. There were signs of a vicious fight, and blood stained the carpet. While it was Lupe blood, it could have been the blood of a Werelupe or that of Falanor. Tabby was terrified and hysterical. She did nothing but cry all day long, hidden in her bedroom. Gemini and Telperion now shared a room, because neither of them was able to sleep alone anymore. "I don't understand," Gemini said one night. "Falanor could have fought off a Werelupe. He was so strong and brave. They couldn't possibly have taken him."

      "I want to go find him," Telperion told her. "I know I could do it. I'm older and stronger than people think."

      Gemini looked at him, her blue eyes fiery. "Okay," she said. "But I'm coming with you. In fact, I've got a few things that will help us." She got out of bed and beckoned Telperion to follow her. They snuck into her bedroom and she switched on a light. She opened a secret panel on the wall and revealed a small compartment. "I was planning on giving this to you on your birthday, but seeing as it's kind of a crisis, I think you should have it now." She reached in and pulled out a Shadow Paint Brush. "It'll help us for a few reasons. One, you'll blend into the shadows of the Haunted Woods, and you can sneak into the den of the Werelupes easier. Also, it'll make you bigger and stronger. You won't be stuck in that baby form of yours."

      Telperion took the brush reverently. "Thank you so much, Gemini," he said. "It's wonderful."

      Gemini also had a few good weapons and a collection of about 50,000 Neopoints saved up. The next morning, they packed it all and decided to go to Neopia Central first, to paint Telperion. Gemini left a note for Tabby that said what they were doing and not to worry, and then they were off as the sun rose.

      The trek to Neopia Central was fairly uneventful; everyone who passed the Lupes scurried away as fast as they could, as though the young Neopets were Werelupes themselves. "It's ridiculous," Gemini said at one point. "Do we look dangerous?" Telperion was silent and walked on.

      At last, the two Lupes arrived in Neopia Central. It was crowded - far more crowded than they were used to in Brightvale. But it was also somewhat cozy, and Gemini mentioned that she wouldn't mind living there sometime. "Not me," Telperion said. "I love Brightvale. I want to stay there forever."

      Gemini shrugged. "Different strokes for different folks, as Tabby always says." Thinking of their owner made both pets slightly unhappy, and they didn't talk for a while until they reached the Rainbow Pool. Telperion peered into its cool, clear waters and shivered with anticipation. "This is going to be exciting," he said to Gemini. "My first painting."

      "And hopefully your last!" Gemini joked. "I can't afford to buy another paintbrush for you!"

      Telperion grinned and took the paintbrush from her. It seemed to glow darkly with magic, and the little Lupe closed his eyes and merely held it close. It seemed to radiate a soothing affection that calmed him and warmed him to his core. With no more hesitation, Telperion slipped into the serene, welcoming waters. The pool turned a deep black, the colour of the sky on a moonless midnight, and Telperion felt his body changing and growing. He surged out of the water and shook himself. The paintbrush had vanished, and everything was as it had been - the water was clear and pure once more, and Telperion felt almost the same... but not quite. He felt older, wiser... and when he looked down at himself he could see strong, toned muscles moving under inky black fur. He looked at Gemini and saw that she was smiling brilliantly, sisterly pride shining from her eyes.

      "Well," Telperion said, hearing his newly deepened voice, "let's get going."

To be continued...

 
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