Easter in the Gnome Underground
“Danny, you nitwit!” Sammi the Baby Kacheek and her brother Danny the Baby Lupe stumbled down a Symol hole in the middle of their lawn next to a Playful Kougra Gnome their owner, Joni, had recently bought. “How many times have I told you not to touch the A Krawks Grey Day book that we saved our pocket money on to give to Joni for Grey Day?”
Danny retorted, “I only took it out of your hands because you suggested we play frisbee with it! You’re the one that knocked it out of my hands.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t be such a butterfingers!” Sammi snapped back, now following Danny as he got out an Oozing Candle and began to walk (they were babies, after all) through the underground tunnels.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be such a brat! Now Grey Day will be ruined because of you, just like Sparky’s Christmas!”
Sammi made an audible gasp in the gloom behind the Candle in the Lupe’s mouth. “You did not just call me a brat! It’s because of your prissiness that we’re even here at all!”
“My prissiness? If it weren’t for that, we’d still be stuck in the Ice Caves! It’s because of you that we have to traverse through a similar clichéd setting!”
“No, it’s because of you!” Sammi’s voice now rose to a shout.
“Because of you!”
“Because of you!”
“Because of both of you.” A voice spoke from what appeared to be above them. The two Neopets apprehensively looked up and saw what appeared to be a wooden puppet. It eyes were glowing red and its head was spinning.
“Run for the hills!” Sammi yelled, and forgetting all dignity, she began screaming, raising her arms above her head and running back the way they came to the faint light that was the original hole they had descended. However, she had barely run two steps before she crashed into the silhouette of what looked like a Playful Kougra.
Danny, however, was calm about this, as he recognized the toy on the ceiling. He coaxed, “Relax, Sammi, that spinning doll Joni bought for Sparky right before he got admitted into the Ninja Training School must’ve escaped again.” As Sammi sat on the ground dazed, Danny hesitantly raised the candle to bring the shadow into the radius of the light.
It was the exact same Playful Kougra Gnome. Just to make sure, Danny checked its left boot. ‘Yep, there’s the scratch that Sparky’s spinning doll made the last time it escaped,’ the Lupe thought. The gnome, however, asked, “Keep your voice down, you silly baby. You’ll wake up the rest of the Gnome Underground.”
The baby Kacheek regained her senses and saw the gnome bathed in light. “Holy hotcakes! It’s a living Playful Kougra Gnome!”
At this, the Gnome seemed to flush with anger and embarrassment. “I am not just a ‘Playful Kougra Gnome’! My name is Rainbow!”
When Sammi heard his name was Rainbow, she snorted and opened her mouth to say something but stopped with a hard nudge in the elbow and a glare from Danny.
“So, Rainbow,” Danny said in a perfectly calm manner as Sammi continued to giggle in the background, “Would you happen to have our A Krawks Grey Day that we dropped down this tunnel?” The gnome smiled and raised its hand. In his plastic palm, there sat the book, looking as if it had not dropped down into a dank tunnel. “Thanks a lot!” Danny reached out to take the book as Sammi stood up and brushed herself off, but Rainbow took the book out of the baby Lupe’s reach. “What gives?” Danny demanded.
“Don’t you know what’s coming up?” Rainbow smirked.
Sammi said, in a bratty tone, “No duh! It’s Grey Day on the 14th Day of Eating! Every Neopet in Neopia knows that, but do stupid Playful Kougra Gnomes?”
The normally inanimate object certainly looked alive when he declared, “My name is Rainbow! Do you hear me? R A I N B O W !”
A great wind ran through the dead tunnel. Rainbow sniffed it, and then smirked. “I was going to send you on a pointless gnome quest and erase your memories after you’re back on the surface with the book, but I have a much better plan. Rude, selfish, ignorant, juvenile brats need to be put to work.” He snapped his plastic fingers, which made a surprisingly loud echo through the tunnel. A rainbow cube appeared around the opening, making the bright light that shone from the Month of Eating sun in Happy Valley rainbow-coloured throughout the tunnel identical to what a prism could do. “You can’t break through the box until I let you. Now, come with me, foolish babies.”
He beckoned for them to follow, and they did so. Rainbow, despite being only a little bit taller than Danny, the taller of the two siblings, had a commanding aura about him. ‘He must be older than he looks,’ Danny thought.
Sammi, now trying to be polite, modestly asked, “What is this?”
Rainbow turned around and smiled maliciously at her, making the Kacheek recoil. “If you absolutely must know, this is the Gnome Underground. Only one out of every one hundred and fifty gnomes bought from the Gardening Store are alive or have the ability to eventually become animate. The first living gnome, Roy G. Bip, whom I am graciously named after...”
As they walked through the everlasting tunnel with the little light that oozed from Danny’s Oozing Candle, the Kougra Gnome droned on and on about the gnomes. He mentioned the most preposterous and unreal things, saying that gnomes had enlisted the help of Symols to dig tunnels that covered the underground regions of every place in Neopia, even being able to reach Virtupets Space Station and some parts of Kreludor. “We had to use Faerie Symols for that,” he said happily.
As they approached a doorway, they passed a Sleeping Chia Gnome. “This is Ecksy,” Rainbow says, pointing to the gnome. “She’s supposed to be guarding the northern entrance, but she’s always asleep.”
Ecksy snorted in her sleep. A snot bubble emerged from her nose as she murmured sleepily, “Who -” –snort- “Who goes there?”
“Just I, Rainbow, with a couple of... assistants,” Rainbow said, smirking as he said the last word. Sammi shrunk back a little in fear.
The guard gnome waved her hand airily. “Very well, Playful Kougra, you can go on through...”
Rainbow flushed again at the mention of Playful Kougra. “My name is –”
Ecksy smiled in her sleep as her snot bubble popped all over Rainbow’s foot. “No need to get all colourful over me,” she said before she rolled over to the left and gave a loud snore.
Rainbow rolled his eyes and continued leading the two Neopets deeper into the gnome tunnels. They now seemed to be descending.
“The Gnome Master Headquarters is, of course, underneath the Neopian Bazaar, where the Gardening shop is. We’re heading there now. Do not talk or make eye contact with any other gnomes you may see.”
This was a very hard thing to do for Danny and Sammi, for the tunnels were now literally flooded with gnomes, running to and fro. They all seemed to be preoccupied with something, some of them holding baskets of Neggs. As Rainbow saw these gnomes, Sammi could not help but observe that a slight frown went over his noble face.
Finally, they stopped outside of a large door made of obsidian and patched with what appeared to be colourful pieces of plastic. A Sitting Bruce Gnome and a Welcome Lupe Gnome stood at either side of the door. They smiled at Rainbow as he approached the door, and, to the babies’ surprise, he smiled back to them. However, as the two gnomes saw Danny and Sammi, their smile turned malicious, and they started chattering in a strange gibberish with Rainbow. Rainbow only smiled pompously and returned the strange gnome language, mentioning “Prism” and “Moonbeam” and indicating, respectively, the Bruce gnome and the Lupe gnome.
The conversation was short, for their language was fast. In only a little while, the two gnomes opened the door to a large tunnel shrouded in darkness. Rainbow beckoned for the two Neopets to follow. “Come, now, before the gate closes,” he said as the hinges of the large door began to creak. However, he strolled inside with an air of slowness, leaving the baby Lupe and Kacheek to follow behind at a dash.
“Rainbow must be royalty or something,” Danny murmured in Sammi’s ear. She nodded vigorously, but stopped as the dark tunnel ended.
They were on the top tier of a gigantic, spherical room made of stone. Steps ran down from the west, east, north, and south sides, where doors like the north gate they had just entered were located past similar dark tunnels. The room was a bustle of movement; most of the gnomes seemed to congregate on the lower four tiers, with stray gnomes tapping away at small games by themselves or with a friend on top. The bottom tiers were filled with buildings, most of which appeared to be shops. Stands and caravans were set up like a marketplace on the second-lowest tier.
On the lowest level, an extremely large oval identical to what was presumably the island of grass in the middle of the bazaar above, there was a large, crystalline cube, similar to the one Rainbow had made back at the opening to their lawn in Terror Mountain, covering up something that seemed to roar on occasion and move to make the entire room shake. Gnomes holding more baskets of Negg bustled out of the cube.
“This is the Gnome Master EchQue,” Rainbow proclaimed, holding up his hands. He began to descend the stairs, Danny and Sammi following.
As they passed the third level, there was a shell that appeared to be a lounge for some of the gnomes. As Rainbow passed, a Hunting Grarrl Gnome stood up and yelled, “Hoi, Playful Kougr’! How’re the games goin’?”
Danny expected the Kougra gnome to snap back colourfully, proclaiming his name was Rainbow, but he did not. Instead, he muttered, “Shut up, Storm,” and sped up his pace. Storm whispered something to the gnomes around him, and they all began to laugh and cast looks at Rainbow. They completely disregarded Danny and Sammi, though one of them began whispering in the same gnome gibberish to another one of them as they passed.
For a split second, Danny felt a pang of pity for Rainbow. The Lupe was pitifully given a reminder of Donny, one of his friends at the daycare they sometimes went to when Joni had to leave Terror Mountain to do errands. Donny, a Baby Lenny, was extremely smart from reading many books that his rich owner bought him from the day that he was born. As a result, he was arrogant and enjoyed pointing out other peoples’ mistakes. When he walked, he walked as if the entire world was his; as if he knew everything there was to know about his surroundings. Naturally, he was extremely unpopular but was a common target of jokes and darts. At these times, Donny bowed his head and quickly ran into a corner. After he built a fortress of books to try and block out the sounds of the bullies’ laughter, he allowed nobody to talk to him and told Danny to go away every time the Lupe approached with consolidating words, and was moody for the rest of the day. Danny disbelievingly felt sympathy for the gnome that had commanded such a forceful aura when he was alone.
“You know,” Sammi whispered to Danny as they approached the cube in the center, “I think you were wrong about that Playful Kougra freak. He’s just a big, nerdy loser.” Danny did nothing to attempt to make Sammi be quiet as she laughed; apparently she had heard what Storm had whispered to his friends back in the lounge behind them and found it extremely amusing.
Finally, they reached the cube in the center. Rainbow spoke, in his old imperative tone. “This is only a temporary feature for EchQue. A week ago, an Unlucky Usul Fishing Gnome named Crystal accidentally tripped the Easter Cybunny as she passed through our tunnels. The Easter Cybunny broke her ankle, and her Neggs scattered throughout the Underground.”
As Rainbow raised his plastic hand and created an entrance to the cube, he began to explain how the gnomes now had to hoard all of the Easter Cybunny’s Easter Neggs in the cube that Crystal had turned herself into as the Cybunny rested her broken joint. Sammi, however, was confused, and raised a hand as Rainbow said that the Cybunny had no chance of recovery before Easter, and all living gnomes from Neopia now had to band together to deliver the Neggs.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Playful, but what’s an Easter Cybunny?”
Rainbow turned around, presumably to correct the baby Kacheek at her mention of Mr. Playful, but then heard the conclusion of her question. The Kougra gnome resumed walking, and said airily, “She is the deliverer of all Easter Neggs. As she has been hiding in this cube for so long and has not delivered any Easter Neggs at all this year, of course Easter has faded from your memory.
“I suppose you felt an impulsion to purchase a gift for your owner at this time of year. Why do you think you bought A Krawks Grey Day for your owner for Grey Day? The holiday is not Grey Day. It is Easter. You normally purchase Neggs for your owner for Easter, and likewise your owner purchases you Neggs and hides them throughout your NeoHome to find. Without any Easter Neggs, Easter in Neopia could not be. Without any Easter Neggs, living gnomes could not be.”
Danny and Sammi drank in the information. They wracked their memories to try and recall memories of Easter in previous years past, but they could not. Rainbow was correct; with the absence of the ‘Easter Cybunny’, the holiday was as forgetful-worthy as Nova Day.
Rainbow stopped walking before a wall made of crystal. All around them, they were surrounded by a strange, light-blue light, preventing them from seeing the outside of the box. The gnome knocked on the wall, and it shattered. Sammi nearly screamed, but Danny put a quick paw on her mouth. As she screamed silently, they walked through the shards, which did not cause pain when walked on. The wall spontaneously fixed itself on its own accord as they passed.
Rainbow now lead them to a hallway filled with baskets of Neggs. Close-up, the baskets were all labeled with Neopia worlds, and gnomes were picking them up and walking directly out of the crystal walls, which would explain why there were no gnomes at the front entrance of the polyhedron.
Danny anticipated the thought of Rainbow’s task for them being delivering the Neggs for the gnomes, but to his surprise they walked right through the passage to meet another wall, this one made of pure crystal. Rainbow tapped five different spots at a rapid pace, and after he spoke a mass of gnome gibberish, the wall simply faded away.
They walked past it. Sammi stood at the spot where the wall had been and wondered aloud, “I wonder what will happen when the wall reappears?” before she was yanked deeper into the cube by Danny.
Now, the light was no longer as bright, and it slowly faded to darkness. Rainbow’s stride, however, was still proud, and it led the two Neopets into gloom. A roar suddenly rushed past, and Sammi cowered in fear while Danny grew fearful in his thoughts. They both wanted to leave, but they could not forsake Rainbow, knowing that the gnome would most likely punish them even more for their attempted escape. Instead, they just held their breaths until a bright light met them, and there, in what looked like the center of the box, they saw a figure.
It was an extremely large Cybunny, disproportional to a Neopet that could race around dark, narrow tunnels and deliver Neggs to all Neopian worlds. Rainbow raised his arms and bowed, declaring, “Mistress Easter Cybunny. My, you look pleasant today.”
The Easter Cybunny rolled back her head and laughed, which sounded identical to the roars they had heard from the outside. “That’s bologna, Playful Kougra. You think I’m as ugly as gross food.”
Rainbow bit his lip at the mention of Playful Kougra, and said, “My name is Rainbow.”
The Cybunny laughed again. “Do you think I care?” she asked rhetorically. Then, she looked at Danny and Sammi, now attempting to keep themselves out of the Cybunny’s menacing, maniacal glare. “And what’s this? Babies?! You said you’d bring me something that could help me, not something I have to babysit!”
Rainbow waved his hand again. “Nay, your Easter greatness. They have wronged me. They deserve to be put to work under your great rule.”
“You can stop the fake flattery, you stupid gnome,” the Cybunny said. “I’ll tell you the next time I need you to bring me out of my depression spell.” She raised her ankle on to a footstool and then commanded for the departure of the gnome. “I want to talk to my new servants alone,” the Cybunny explained as Rainbow bowed and left. He cast a warning glance at the two babies before he stepped out from the left wall.
“So, you two,” the Cybunny said, now looking at them with one eye. “What are your names?”
“My name’s Danny,” said Danny, trying to avoid eye contact with the Cybunny, “and my sister’s name is Sammi.”
“What two very boring names,” the Cybunny yawned. “From now on, as long as you’re in the gnome tunnels, your names will be Buzz and Acara.”
“But we are Lupe and Kacheek!” Danny retorted, forgetting his manners for the first time in his life out of fear of the Cybunny.
The Cybunny laughed. “Who cares? My name’s Easter, and I’m a Cybunny. You don’t get to decide your name.”
As they talked, Sammi walked over, unobtrusively, to the footstool. She began to examine the Cybunny’s ankle, which was the size of her entire head. The Kacheek poked it and looked up at Easter. She did not seem to notice. Quickly, she scrambled back to Danny’s side, who had not noticed his sister running off to pursue danger as he exchanged words with the mistress.
“My mission for you is to take back all of the Neggs that the Snowager has taken from me. If you fail, I will eat you, or the remains, anyway. Now go; Rainbow will lead your way through the wall.”
Danny recoiled at the thought of having to go meet the Snowager again. Last time, he had acted coldly towards the two siblings, and that was only because they had disturbed his rest. This time, they actually had to steal something from his large pile of treasure. There was no going back from such a fate. As he turned to leave to face his doom, he beckoned for Sammi to follow him, but she was now running to the footstool Easter’s ankle was resting on.
“Sammi! No!!” he yelled, but it was too late. When Easter’s eyes were closed, the Kacheek kicked the stool out from under the large foot, and it fell to the floor with a bang. At that instant, Rainbow appeared back in the chamber.
“What happened?!” he yelled. Easter, however, did not seem to notice her injured foot smashing on the floor.
“I’ll tell you what, Playful Kougra Gnome!” Sammi yelled. “Your almighty mistress is faking her injury! She’s just been making you gnomes work for her. Y’all’ve been scammed!”
Rainbow did not seem to know who to believe. From the wall, most of the gnomes they had seen on their way there, including Ecksy (half-asleep), Prism, Moonbeam, and Cloud ran in. “What happened?” they yelled in an identical way as Rainbow. Rainbow just pointed to Easter’s eyes, which snapped open.
“How dare you!” she screamed. “How dare you! I – I –”
They never figured out what she was going to say. The gnome guards now all saw that their mistress was not injured at all. Instead, they all began shouting a gibberish war cry, and a mass of gnomes, some of them carrying Negg baskets, appeared from nowhere. All of the gnomes pelted the Easter Cybunny with Neggs. She recoiled, screaming.
“No! You can’t do this!” Danny ran up to their line of fire and shouted as loud as he could. All eyes were now on him, so they didn’t notice Easter beginning to escape. “This Cybunny, as corrupt as she may be, is the embodiment of Easter. Without Easter in Neopia, there will be no Negg hunts; no holiday; no Neggs at all. Easter will cease to exist, and all we have to look forward to is Grey Day, a holiday where everything is sad. Easter was a happy event, and if you continue to pelt this Cybunny with Neggs, there will be no happiness, only grey! Think about it, gnomes.”
A wave of murmuring broke through the crowd. However, a voice from the back said, “Who cares? We live underneath Neopia!”
Gnome voices cried out, “He’s right,” and they all readied their fire again. However, Sammi jumped up beside her brother.
“Then think of it this way. If you remove Easter, you’ll no longer be living. You’ll just be coloured chunks of plastic!”
A silence swept over the crowd as a result of Ssammi’s words, broken only when Easter dropped from a hole in the ceiling she was trying to escape through with a loud splat. Storm the Grarrl gnome suddenly asked, “Your words may ring true, filthy living Neopet. But what are we going to do about this Cybunny? She’s shamed us all.”
“You can strip her of her greatest power over you: her size. Make her cute, adorable; a true spirit of Easter. Make her a real Neopet again.”
“That I’ll gladly do to such a hag,” Rainbow said. He spoke in gibberish to the crowd behind him, and was answered with a cheer. All of the gnomes present surrounded Easter in a circle, and she raised her paw, as if to attempt to ward off the gnomes. However, they all raised their hands and said something in their language that increased in tempo until there was a large puff of smoke. It escaped through the ceiling, and there in Easter’s place was an extremely adorable baby Cybunny.
“You can’t do this to me!” Easter said, her voice now squeaky and high-pitched.
“It’s the greatest punishment for you,” said Rainbow, now towering over his former mistress. “Now get out of here, and take your Neggs with you!”
“I’ll get you back one day, you stupid gnomes!” Easter said, collecting all of her Negg baskets and then turning to leave. “Especially you, you Playful Kougra!”
“My name is Rainbow!” Rainbow yelled, and he kicked Easter right out of the gnome tunnels. The crystalline cube they were still in shook and with another bout of smoke it become an Unlucky Usul Fishing Gnome. Some of the gnomes in the congregation, namely the fishing ones, welcomed Crystal back to their society. Around Danny and Sammi, all of the gnomes began cheering, and sounds of the beginning of a party began to envelope the lower tier of EchQue.
“Um, Rainbow,” Sammi said hesitantly. He now turned around and smiled authentically at the Kacheek he had called brat so long ago. “Can we go home now?”
Thus, their Easter was saved, and everything seemed like the babies had not gone wandering around the Gnome Underground. However, Sammi never looked at the gnome on their lawn the same ever again.
It always looked just a little different to her every time she saw it.