Ella, The Archer
I still remember the days when my bare paws would fly across the needle-carpeted forest floor. I still remember the sound of the bubbling brook which was the sustenance of my life force. I still remember the scent of the damp earth, the rough touch of the tall pines. Even though no one else can- I still remember.
The young Usul awoke with a start by a sound, her right paw immediately reaching for her bow, her left searching her quiver for an arrow. Slowly she stood, careful to keep in the shadows of the pine trees, careful not to make any noise.
The Archer had lived in the forest her whole life. The green Usul had never known any creatures other than the weewoos and Tuceets that inhabited the shady canopy. Her parents were unknown, and as far as anyone else in the world knew, she was unknown as well. Never had she learned the language of the Neopians, for her only companions were the forest creatures. The Archer was ignorant of all that related to the outside world, the fact that it existed inclusive. Every art she knew- the Hunt, the Gathering, the Creating- was what she learned from the animals.
Occasionally, however, an enemy would come. The Archer, the Protector of the Forest, always protected her friends and defended her home. Little did she know that she was destroying any contact of the world she would soon be part of.
The noise sounded through the forest again. It was loud and ringing. For some reason, the Archer wished to repeat the sound. It filled her with joy, much like the song of the weewoos. The Archer copied the sound. She heard it again in response, from behind her.
She whirled around.
“Who's there?!” she cried out in chirps and tweets.
Two creatures emerged from the underbrush. One was small, had antennae, and had blue skin. The other walked on all four pink paws and had long ears, and was blue as well. The Archer hissed and crouched back, ready to spring.
The two newcomers stepped back in surprise, and glanced at each other.
With them, the Archer noticed, was a small green weewoo-like creature. The walked-on-four-paws creatures whispered something to it. The thing nodded, as if he understood. He turned to the Usul, and spoke in her language.
“They- we,” he corrected himself, “mean no harm. We wish you would come with us. A storm is coming.”
She considered this for a grand total of two seconds, and then shook her head, no. The Archer rose from her crouched position and beckoned to the alien creatures. They nodded in return and followed her to a small den. She beckoned towards some grass mats and settled down on her own. She fell asleep.
A minute later, she was gently lifted from the den by a tall human and brought to a little boat. The next she awoke, she was in a bed. In a house.
A New Life
It was hard for me. I did not understand them. They seemed to not understand me. They tried to communicate with me, but I couldn't comprehend. I remember now the light touch of the little winged creature, and the longing for home. My home.
Her normally blue eyes were red and puffy from her uncontrollable sobbing. Her only comfort was the small animal the captors had given her, a little miniature white puma with wings. They understood each other.
Her pride was torn from her, her home was taken from her, and her life was now taking a new turn. She hated it.
“Ella, do you want something to eat?” She looked up towards the doorway to see a tall, humanoid creature. Surprisingly, the Archer understood. But who was this Ella she spoke of?
She turned away, paying no heed to the being.
“Ella, dear, you must eat something.” This time the being’s green eyes bore right into her blue ones. She understood that “Ella” must mean her.
“E-el-ella?” she tried out the name. It was suitable. “T-the Archer,” she added.
The creature lifted one corner of its mouth in a grin. “Ella, the Archer it is, then. You may call me Engel. I will be your owner and caretaker.”
Engel brought some Mixed Nuts and set them on the edge of the bed. “Tomorrow,” you will go to Neoschool and learn the language of the Neopians. Then you can explore Neopia.”
But Ella, the Archer, was already munching away on the nuts.
Months later, Ella was awakened early in the morning by the blue four-paw.
“Ella! Wake up! We are going to the meadow!” Illusen, a blue Acara and her new sister, hopped into the Archer's loft bed and patted her gently on the face. “Engel says you have learned enough proper Neopian to go see the world!”
Soon, they were on the way to the meadow. The moment she crested the last hillock on the way, Ella’s jaw dropped in wonder. The sea of grass, the beautiful flowers, and the spectrum of colors formed by the small winged creatures melded to make a breathtaking view. She ran down the slope of the hill into the long, wild weeds. Laughing, she rolled through the grasses into a flower patch. A swarm of butterflies flew from the colorful poppies, boadaisies, and yolkalias. She stood, watching wistfully as they flew free.
One landed on her paw and she gazed at its red and yellow beauty in awe.
The pure magic of it engulfed her, and her longing for home was dulled.
The return was amazing. I remember it again. But now no one can anymore. It is gone. Disappeared. Forever. But I found something new...
Ella the Archer waited eagerly at the bow of the skimmer, trying to catch a glimpse of the forest. Flotsams, jumping in the wake of the boat, chattered and tried to keep her company. But she was not listening more than she had to, to be polite, for the Usul was almost home.
“Ella? You ready for the hike?” the once-Grundo-now-Christmas-Uni carried a pack on her back. Ella turned and nodded. When she looked forwards again, she saw the tall pines peeking over the horizon.
“Almost home!” she cried. She pressed against the figurehead, trying to get closer.
When the boat docked at last, Ella ran into the forest in delight. Everything was the same as when she had left it. Everything... except for that smell. It was unnoticeable at first but soon became apparent. She followed it through her familiar woods to a road. A road? Impossible! No one lived here but the animals!
She quickly ran alongside the path. The angle increased and Ella soon realized she was running up a hill. She heard whispers.
The protector returned!
She can help us now.
Archer is back! The prisoner can be freed!
The voices were familiar, but what they were saying was unsettling. Who was the prisoner?
At the top of the hill, the answer came.
A small, yet tall, castle soon came into view. The land was cleared of trees. She crept carefully down the hill and sprinted towards the castle.
Only she knows what happened after. But Ella found Lord Tigerfurball the Kougra held prisoner in the castle and helped him escape. His captor, in anger, caused the lightning that burned down the forest. The woodland broke from mainland Neopia and sank below the azure depths of the sea, quieted forever.
Her old world may have been lost, but as she lives in the new one, her first home is still in her thoughts. She is now a part of Neopia, and Neopia is a new part of her.