Life in a Snowy Shadow: Part Seven
The sight of someone who was famous among Petpets for her kindness was a heart-warming thing. But I wasn’t sure what to do. She already had so many Petpets with her. Would she accept me as well? Should I go into the forest first? Or just ask her if I could stay for a while, and tell her about me?
I suddenly realised that it was starting to get dark. I glanced at the forest and realised how far away it still was. There was no way I'd get there in time. No, it was probably better to ask Fauna. But how could I communicate with her?
“Are you OK there?”
I jumped in surprise, and saw that a Blobikins had approached me. Behind him, I saw that Fauna and all the other Petpets were watching, too, and felt slightly embarrassed.
“I -- I’m OK,” I stammered.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Hi, Kay. I’m Bibble.” He glanced at Fauna behind him. “Are you... going somewhere?”
I nodded. “Uh-huh, to the forest.”
Bibble stared at me. “To the forest? Why would any Petpet in their right mind want to go there? It’s filled with wild Lupes!”
I shuddered, and felt my face flush in embarrassment. I hadn’t heard this in the legends of Altador. Bibble seemed to realise what he had said was a little rude, and nodded apologetically.
“I’m sorry. Are you... homeless?”
I nodded. “I sort of got carried here by a Uni taxi while running away from an owner.”
Bibble’s face became very genuinely sympathetic. “I’m really sorry to hear that. Most owners aren’t very nice, are they?”
I gave him a stiff nod. “He kidnapped me from the PPL, and was trying to sell me. I kind of wanted to live in the forest by myself, but...” I broke off. It was too soon to ask if I could stay with Fauna permanently. Bibble didn’t seem to notice, however.
“You should stay with us for tonight, at least. Fauna’s really, really nice. You... have heard of her, haven’t you?”
I nodded yes, and with that, Bibble led me to the group of Petpets. Fauna smiled at me with welcome and warmth on her face.
“She’s homeless, too,” Bibble explained. “She was carried here by a Uni taxi, apparently. I told her that she could stay here for the night. That’s OK, right?”
To my amazement, Fauna nodded and turned to me. “Of course! What’s your name?”
“You can understand Petpets?!” I burst out incredulously.
Fauna laughed at what must’ve been a very strange look on my face. “Yes, I have lived around Petpets almost all my life, and therefore I can understand your language.”
“Oh. Well... I’m Kay,” I replied timidly.
She smiled, seeming to notice how afraid I was. “Kay, that’s a nice name. Don't worry, you’re safe here. Now, my cottage is just --”
She broke off as an incredulous voice in the midst of all the Petpets said, “Kay?”
My mouth dropped open as I saw who it was. The old Snowbunny I’d talked to on the day Snowbunnies were released through the Advent Calendar!
“You...?” I repeated weakly.
“Yes, it’s me. I’m Harold. Your name’s Kay?”
I nodded yes.
“Harold, you know her?” Bibble demanded in amazement.
“Of course! We’re both Snowbunnies who lived in the same group on the peak of Terror Mountain, aren’t we?”
Before I could say anything more, Fauna broke in, “I think we should get inside first. It looks like it’s about to rain.”
It did indeed look that way, so I obeyed without hesitation.
When we were inside, Harold bombarded me with questions about what had happened to me and how I’d ended up here. I tried to dodge his questions, and fortunately Fauna came to the rescue, saying that I should probably get some food and rest first.
Fauna cooked steamed rice and noodles with potato soup, which was delicious. I chewed it slowly, knowing that all the Petpets had their eyes on me. They were curious about where I had come from, and would not accept me until I told them. Knowing that I would have to tell them all in the end anyway, I began my painful story the moment we finished dinner.
Although much of what had happened to me was normal for Petpets, they were all shocked and amazed at what happened to Marzely, at the PPL, at how I’d been kidnapped. Apparently, none of them knew about the Neopet Trading business, though, and were surprised at the reactions of Cecilia and Owen to it. They all felt the same way I had when it happened -- Petpets, Neopets and owners all had the same feelings and intelligence. The only difference was size, so why should the Neopets and owners dominate over us so much?
Fauna was very sympathetic as well. When I had finally finished my tale, I was met with silence all around. Everyone was watching me, almost as if they were waiting for more.
“That’s really sad,” Bibble broke in at last, sniffing. Harold bowed his head and nodded. The other Petpets all murmured in agreement.
“So... are you still planning to go into the forest?” Fauna asked abruptly.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, if you want me to, then...”
“How can you expect us to want you to leave after we’ve heard all this?!” Bibble gasped.
I smiled meekly. “You’ll let me stay then?”
“Yes!” everyone chorused at the same time.
I felt my heart warm. I hadn’t felt wanted or accepted like this for a long, long time, since I had last been with my family and friends on Terror Mountain. This reminded me of something.
“Harold,” I asked him, “Do you know where any of the other Snowbunnies went? Do you think there’s a way we can track them down? I really want to know if I can find my sister and mother.”
Harold hesitated, and looked at Fauna, who frowned. All eyes were now on her. After a moment, she said, “Well, I’m not entirely sure if this will work...”
I knew she didn’t want me to get my hopes up, but I couldn’t help looking at her expectantly for an answer.
“...There’s apparently a record at the Virtupets Space Station of every... item... that had ever been sold or traded. Petpets are on the list. It’s almost certain that your mother and sister have been transferred to different owners and Neopets over the last year, so I think we may be able to track them down.”
“Why would there be a record of all that at the Virtupets Space Station?” I asked confusedly.
“It was once a secret plan of Dr. Sloth’s to take over Neopia. But when it failed, he realised that many Neopians thought it useful to have an automatic list like that to track down lost or stolen items and Petpets. He now just charges Neopoints for access to the list, so that he can use the money for a new plan to take over Neopia.” She chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, though. Dr. Sloth is a total failure and there isn’t really much harm in funding him. Anyway, this is necessary.”
“Let’s hope he continues to be a total failure,” one of the Petpets said. “Otherwise, history books will one day be talking about how Fauna, one of the twelve heroes of Altador, helped Dr. Sloth!”
Although what he said wasn’t exactly funny, his joking tone made it so, and all of us giggled for a while. I was filled with hope and happiness as I thought of what was to come -- the possibility that my family could be tracked down.
* * *
Mera the Bruce sighed as she placed one last file in the right folder. It was very late at night, and she wanted to go to sleep. All the Petpets were still awake, though. It had become a bit of a problem these last few days, ever since Kay the Snowbunny had vanished in the middle of the night.
Kay was such a sweetie, she thought. And she had stayed with us for a year. I don’t really think she would have run away.
But if so, what had happened to her? The Petpets were making up stories about how evil monsters had snatched her at night. It started out as serious speculations, but now was just told for the sake of scaring their fellow Petpets. Now, barely any of them went to sleep before midnight.
“There’s mail for you,” called Hugo the Moehog as he appeared from outside. “Actually, it’s addressed to all of us.”
“All of us?” Mera repeated in confusion. “Who’s it from?”
“Fauna, the Gatherer.”
Fauna? That famous Neopet who cared so much for Petpets? Mera took the envelope and ripped it open. She read it with a growing sense of awe, and with Hugo looking at it over her shoulder.
To the Petpet Protection League:
A Snowbunny named Kay, whom I believe once lived with your organisation, is currently with me in Altador. She has asked me to write this letter to you all. Rest assured that she is safe and happy with me at the moment. This is what she says:
Yes, it’s me, Kay. I’m sorry if you have been worried about me when I vanished in the middle of the night. You know that boy who came in the morning? He kidnapped me and tried to sell me!
I’m OK now, though. I got on a Uni taxi and am now in Altador with Fauna. I’ll come and visit you eventually, but first, let me tell you all the exciting things that have happened recently.
We travelled to the Virtupets Space Station because there is an automatic record of all the ‘items’, including Petpets, that were ever sold, traded, or otherwise transferred to another owner. After searching the list, we have found my sister! She is living with me and Fauna right now. My mother wasn’t on the list, and I’m a little worried, but I can wait. I’m happy here, but I’ll never forget the year I spent with you all.
I’ve started to realise recently that it doesn’t matter what the Neopets and owners who don’t care about Petpets think. After all, there are kind Neopets like you, Mera, and you, Hugo, out there. I am who I am, and I’m proud to be a Petpet. I know who I really am -- a strong individual -- and my size and species can’t change that. Because of this, Fauna and I have been trying to spread this message everywhere, to Neopets, Petpets and owners alike. I hope it helps them all in some way.
I really miss you all. To Oinkie -- I know why you’re so upset about avatars now. I’m sorry -- really, I am.
To Rita, you were an amazing friend and I really want to see you again soon.
And to everyone, thank you for all that you’ve done for me!
Thank you for reading my series! I hope this will raise awareness of the lives Petpets have. Feel free to neomail me with comments!