Snow on the Brightvale Hills: Part One
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
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...