The Winds of Change: Part Two
Crystal played until she found her eyes drooping from weariness. It was getting dark, and she hadn’t slept the other night. She stowed her flute in her bag and brought out an old sleeping bag. Finding a shaded place to lay out her sleeping bag, Crystal let herself drift into the realm of dreams.
Crystal shook her head in her sleep. Rain was beginning to pour down as a storm lashed overhead. Thunder boomed out overhead. The noise woke Crystal up. The rain began to come down in sheets, thoroughly soaking the young Faerie Xweetok. Deciding not to stay in Shenkuu any longer, Crystal flew off to the South. The winds lashed out furiously, making it hard for Crystal to fly. She pressed forward, and as she was leaving the outskirts, a large lightning bolt was flung out of the sky and struck the bridge that connected Shenkuu with the rest of Neopia. As the bolt dissolved in the air, the bridge snapped and began to fall away into the cliffs. Crystal swept in and grabbed the ropes that made the railings, holding the bridge together. She didn’t want the two sides to fall away down the cliffs and be lost forever. And yet she did this knowing that nobody who had the equipment to fix the bridge would be out until the storm was over. She had to endure it.
And endure she did -- all through the night until she could look up and see the sun’s first rays of morning shining through the departing clouds. Crystal turned her head towards the city. A couple of Shenkuuians were making their way towards the broken bridge with the supplies needed to fix it. Crystal let them build around her, and once the bridge was fixed, she collapsed from exhaustion. The storm had tossed her about mercilessly, and having to hold the bridge really strained her muscles. After gaining a bit of strength, Crystal stood up.
“We thank you for helping us repair our only link to the outside world. If there is any way we can repay you, let us know,” the owner of the Lunar Temple told her. Crystal pondered for a moment.
“Well, I am going to head out to snowbound Neopia Central, then Terror Mountain, so a nice thick coat might be nice,” Crystal replied. Immediately she was given a thick yet comfortable winter coat. She nodded her thanks to the Shenkuuians and flew off towards the Neopian Capital.
Crystal flew for nearly a day before she reached the snow-covered Neopian Central. It was snowing lightly, and a breeze blew snowflakes in Crystal’s face. Crystal landed gracefully before taking note of her surroundings. The snow was paw-deep. The Neopets of the central were walking about, getting gifts for their friends and family. It was nearly the Day of Giving, and everyone was buying last-minute gifts. Crystal let out a small breath and walked into the Food Shop to pick up some things to eat. Then she was going to pick up some books, then other various items. She went around doing her errands, wanting to have enough food to last the trip to Terror Mountain and still be able to give out some food on the Day of Giving.
When she finished gathering everything she needed, Crystal walked into the Neopia Central main square, as she referred to it. The area around the Money Tree was bare. Usually at this time of year, Neopets placed gifts around the tree to be picked up by friends when they couldn’t mail them or give them in person. Crystal sighed. It was supposed to be a time of happiness, a time of giving, but no one was willing to give. Crystal knew that she could change that. She lifted herself onto one of the Money Tree’s lower branches and took out her flute. She began to play an old Day of Giving tune that she had picked up. It was nothing more than a jumble of repeating notes, but it was beautiful. The notes were carried on the wind and were given a slightly different sound. Soon a crowd of Neopets was gathering, humming and putting sounds to the wordless song. Eventually some of the pets began placing their gifts around the tree, then dropping back into the crowd. More pets began doing so, and soon the ground was littered with gifts of all sizes. A more happy air went around the city.
But soon Crystal slowed down the notes, showing that her song was coming to an end. The crowd slowly began shrinking as the last notes were played. Crystal put away her flute and jumped down from the branch. She was ready for a take-off when someone tapped her on the shoulder from behind.
“Hello, Crystal, is it?” Crystal turned around. It was a young female Spotted Lupe with a Christmas Lupe’s robe holding a small box who was speaking to her.
“Yes. How may I help you?” Crystal replied politely.
“For one thing, that song was beautiful. But, I found this little box near where I picked up my gift. It says that it was meant for you.” The Lupe held out the box. Sure enough, there was a tag reading Runningcrystal on it. Crystal accepted the gift and nodded her thanks.
“Thanks for making sure this little box made it to me. I would never have noticed it,” Crystal said.
“Hey, after that beautiful song, it was the least I could do.” The Lupe smiled and walked off.
That was when Crystal realized that something was terribly wrong. The way that the Lupe spoke to her, and how she had to coax everyone to give their gifts, and how pets walked past each other with their heads down, not even chatting with each other like everyone usually did. For the first time, Crystal noticed the eerie silence that surrounded the usually bustling city. Even though it was most likely minor, there was still something wrong. Crystal didn’t even know if the pets knew why they were acting that way -- they just were. The thought of all that made a chill go through Crystal. She shook off the feeling and flew off towards Terror Mountain.
It had gotten dark by the time Crystal landed in the freezing realm of Terror Mountain. When she went there every year, she felt calm, even if a great tragedy had just happened to her. Probably because she spent her younger days there... Crystal wiped a threatening tear away from her eye. All her memories were stored in the snows of the mountain. She smiled to herself and walked up a mountain path.
Crystal came to the end of the path and looked up to see an old Neohome. It seemed to have been built eight to nine years ago...
That was when Crystal realized who this home belonged to. It was her old Neohome -- the place where she spent her childhood. She burst through the door, expecting someone to be there. The home was silent.
“Well, this can’t be right,” Crystal breathed, walking towards her room. She wanted to see if any of her old things were there. She opened the door, seeing that everything was as she left it when she left her home. Everything was the same, except for one little thing. Resting on Crystal’s beside table was a note. Crystal ran up to the desk, took the note, sat down on her bed, and began reading it.
If you’re reading this, then that means that you have returned home. If you’re hoping to find Feather and me, then, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. In year 17 I have decided that I can’t spare the time to remain here in Neopia, so I have left this planet for the place where I came from. It pained me so much to do it, and knowing that I could not say a proper farewell to you made it even more painful. But I did leave one thing for you. Hopefully you will have received a small box near the Day of Giving. If you haven’t already, please open it.
Crystal remembered the little box she had received earlier that day. She took it out of her coat pocket and removed the ribbons. Inside the box was a small necklace, with silk threads and a small blue crystal as a centerpiece. Crystal smiled and put it on, then resumed reading.
It’s a charm I made for you when you would return to our home. But since you never did come back, I sent it to the Money Tree around the Day of Giving so it would be there for you to pick up. I hope you like it.
I also thought that you should know that Lexi’s pets are all painted the colours that they wanted to be. They’re still in their Neohome in Shenkuu, living as peaceful as ever.
“That’s why I recognized that Plushie Kacheek! It must have been Flight!” Crystal half said, half sobbed. If only she knew... Crystal resumed reading.
If you want to live with them, they’ll be more than happy to take you. Or, you can always move in to Feather’s home on Mystery Island. But remember, I’ll always love you, even if I can’t be with you.
After reading that letter, all the years that Crystal had spent maturing went down the drain for a minute or so. She threw a small tantrum.
“No! No, no, no! This can’t be happening! Ivy has to still be here!” Crystal cried out in dismay, running around her house, looking for her owner. Eventually, when every corner of her house was searched, Crystal flopped down on her bed and cried.
Just when she thought her life could not get any worse, there was a knock upon the door.
To be continued...