Life in a Snowy Shadow: Part Six
It seemed that I had fainted from fear just after the owner captured me, because the next thing I knew, I was in a cage in an unfamiliar place.
It was in a richly furnished Neohome. A Red Techo, a Rainbow Kacheek, a Faerie Shoyru and a Royal Boy Aisha. They were crowded around one teenage boy. How had I ended up here?
Then everything that had just happened came back in a click, and I felt fear encase me. The boy was the one who had kidnapped me from the Petpet Protection League because I refused to go with him before. The Neopets must belong to him.
I was shocked at the sight of one particular Neopet, though. The Royal Boy Aisha. It was Owen! At first, I decided recklessly in my mind to ask for his help, but then changed my mind. Owen didn’t care any more for Petpets than his owner did. Hadn’t he asked Nikki to sell his Faellie so that he could be painted?
Now, the five of them -- four Neopets and the one owner -- came towards me, the boy up front. He picked my cage up and showed me to the Neopets.
“See? This is the Snowbunny I caught. They can be sold for a lot of money at the moment. But I can also get an avatar, from attaching it to one of you for a year.” He looked at them questioningly. “Would you like me to sell, or give it to you?”
“Sell!” Owen said immediately. I realised with a jolt that he didn’t even recognise me.
“Yup!” the other three Neopets agreed.
“Good, I was thinking about that, too,” the boy said. “Well, I’m off to the shop. Behave yourselves.”
He took me outside the home, and I realised that it was already about noon. How long had I been unconscious? But I didn’t get the chance to dwell on it for long. The boy had stopped at a shop, with the sign ‘Marcus’s Magical Store.’ He pushed a key through the hole, turned it, and walked inside.
The shop was totally full of items. Every object imaginable was there -- from clothing to food. He scanned the shelves for a moment, considering where to put me, before reaching up and placing my cage on a high shelf, next to something pink.
I tried to push back my fear, and looked around the shop. Maybe there was something interesting here. The PPL staff had taught me to read basic words, even though I couldn’t write yet. Plushie Zafara Plushie. Red Bouncy Ball. Jhudora Doll. And many more. I then glanced beside me, and my heart stopped at the sight.
It was something mostly round, lengthy and pink. And it looked very familiar. Under it was a label saying: ‘Snorkle Snout! Feed this to your Neopet, and get your avatar today!’
I felt sick and terribly saddened. So this was why Oinkie had behaved that way when the Snowbunny avatar came out. I felt really sorry for him, but I had to take care of myself right now. I was really hoping that someone would buy me soon. For one thing, I was starving, and for another, I didn’t want to be sitting next to the Snorkle Snout for much longer. It made me feel terrible for Oinkie, for myself, and for all Petpets.
I didn’t have to wait long. That very hour, a girl with blonde hair came into the shop, haggled with Marcus, and bought me. As she was walking away, however, the lock on my cage slipped. Just a little. But it was enough for me to push it open, and jump out the moment she left the shop. I knew it was my chance to be free!
The girl gasped and ran back to Marcus. “THAT CAGE WASN’T SECURE! YOU TRICKED ME! GIVE MY MONEY BACK RIGHT NOW!”
I ran away while they argued. I didn’t know how to get to the PPL, but I had to find my way back, somehow.
The streets were even more crowded and busy than I remembered. There were Uni taxis speeding all over the city, and I had to dash away very quickly to avoid them. And then, just as I thought I’d found a corner where no-one could see me, another taxi came directly towards me.
I turned and tried to run, stopped in my tracks. Because there, standing ready to grab me, was Marcus. I took one glance at him, and at the speeding Uni taxi. I made my choice -- it was the only thing I could do, which all the Neopets blocking my way of escape on the road. With one giant leap, I jumped onto the empty taxi seat.
That moment, the Uni took flight, and I clung on, leaving Marcus yelling furiously down below.
* * *
I had never been up so high before, but the flight wasn’t too bad. The Uni flew slowly and calmly. I just had to hold onto the seat tightly to make sure I didn’t fall off.
I was glad that I had escaped Marcus, but what next? I couldn’t go back to the PPL, because the Uni was taking me so far away. Could it be Faerieland? Maybe even... Terror Mountain?
We arrived at neither of those places, however. When the Uni descended, I saw sunshine and glaring towers. Remembering from my childhood stories, I knew that this had to be Altador.
The Uni trotted over to a building where many other Unis, of all different colours, were standing. She tossed off the reins of the carriage, and walked over to her friends, talking to them.
I stayed still for a moment, but then decided that it was best to move. I crawled out of the carriage without anyone seeing me, and onto the streets.
Altador seemed to be a lot less crowded than Neopia Central, but I guessed that was natural, considering that there were less Neopets and people living there. The city looked magnificent and impressive, but only a few Neopets were out in the streets, and no owners. I thought I could see a Lenny flipping through books in one window. Thinking about the legends of Altador I’d heard, I guessed that he was the Altadorian Archivist.
It was then that one part of the legends of Altador came back to me clearly. There was supposed to be a peaceful forest nearby, which was undisturbed by Petpets, owners and Neopets alike. I made up my mind. I’d travel to its outskirts, and could stay there. I could hopefully live by myself, eating berries from the fruit trees and drinking from streams. It wouldn’t be too different from how I’d lived on Terror Mountain. And perhaps, one day, I’d try and find my family.
So, dodging all the Neopets on the street, who paid no attention whatsoever to me, I tried to crawl outside the city, past the great big buildings and the fine shops. Slowly, slowly, I tried to make my way out. The city was big, and I was very small compared to it, but I knew where I was going. There was a farm in the distance, with a forest by the sea just beyond it. Keeping my eyes on it gave me the strength and courage to go on.
It also gave me time to think about all that had happened. My life had been filled with shadows from the day the Snowbunnies on the top of Terror Mountain had been discovered. First, I was separated from my family. Then, I made and lost a friend. I found a home in the PPL, until I was captured and sold after a year of happiness. Now, I had run away to here.
The forests were growing closer and closer as I walked past the buildings. I told myself that I would be strong, and not give up. I was nearly there. It may not be the safest place, but it was a place. I could find sanctuary there for now. And maybe I could find somewhere better to live later. I didn’t care about books, toys and all the things Neopets and owners wanted. I could make my own toys, and everything else was like the traditional life of Snowbunnies on Terror Mountain.
I was now just past the city, and at the farm. A Blue Moehog was there, next to dozens of hay stacks. There seemed to be a Vaelous just past him, but the moment I saw him, he vanished. I didn’t really care, in fact. I could make my own way of living without having to approach every Petpet I saw, just because we were all doomed to the same fate of being dominated by Neopets and owners at some point or other.
These thoughts made me feel more confident, and more ready to embrace what was to come. As I stepped past the farm, near the mountains and the forests, I saw a strange sight in the distance.
It appeared to be an Acara, next to a large cottage. She was beautiful, and graceful, and the sight of her calmed me. Most surprisingly of all, I saw that there was a large group of Petpets around her that she was talking to, and they were all looking at her in admiration.
Another piece of knowledge that Marzely had taught me (I was starting to wonder what I could’ve done without his insight at this stage) clicked back to me. This must be the legendary Neopet, one of the twelve heroes of Altador, her statue in the Hall of Heroes. This must be Fauna, the Gatherer.
To be continued...