In Search of Snow
Silver's backpack was heavy on her shoulder as she stomped through the rain-wet sidewalks of Neopia Central. The young white Bori squinted up at the sky. The sun dared to show its face between a break in the thick white cloud cover that had obscured it for most of the morning. Silver glared hatefully at the round yellow disc, which sent pale fingers of warmth through the land.
"Please," Silver begged, clasping her claws together, "some snow. Let it snow." Her cerulean eyes searched the sky, which remained deaf to her pleas. Not even one more cloud appeared to hinder the sun. She sighed and continued her daily trek home from Neoschool.
The white Bori walked dejectedly up the front steps of her medium-sized, one-story Neohome. Inside, she heard the clang of pots and pans as her sister, Gracie, made dinner. The blue Wocky, donning her favorite timeworn apron and wielding a scratched wooden spoon, was an expert cook - unlike their owner, Sara, who mangled the simplest of recipes until they were no longer recognizable. The eccentric redhead was currently out restocking, if she was following her regular schedule, but she would be home in time to enjoy Gracie's delicious dinner.
Silver tossed her backpack on the floor, causing the Wocky's sensitive ears to flick. Gracie turned to her younger sibling and murmured, "Rain gettin' to ya, Silv?"
Silver nodded and threw herself onto the couch in the nearby living room. Only a thin wall, with a large window, separated the two rooms. "I wish we would just move to Terror Mountain."
Gracie stirred the concoction - its delectable smell reached Silver even all the way on the sofa - and proceeded to dip a finger into it, taste it, and nod ever so slightly before replying. "But Imiri would be miserable. You know Neopia Central - hot summers, cold winters - is fair to you both." The Wocky turned back to her cooking.
"Then I wish could make it snow!" Silver declared, one claw idly tracing the design on the Disco Print Sofa. Her sister, Imiri the golden Pteri, hailed from the Lost Desert, and there was nothing she enjoyed more than soaring effortlessly on its thermal updrafts. But Silver had always dreamed of living in her homeland, Terror Mountain. She loved everything about it; the ice, the snowball fights, the hot cocoa, the adventures, the Snow Faerie quests...
Snow Faerie quests. Silver could almost feel the gears in her head beginning to turn. "That's it!" The Bori straightened up, her cerulean eyes sparkling with a new light. "Taelia!"
"Don't get another one of your crazy ideas..." warned Gracie, but the Wocky's warning was lost on Silver as she dashed down the hallway, her loud steps echoing throughout the house.
_____ _____ _____
Silver stepped onto the soft sky-blue carpet of her room. She had quite a collection of posters showcasing the Terror Mountain team in various Altador Cups, all plastered on the walls, but she didn't take even a moment to look at her favorite as she normally did - the one of Rinok Fitel, a white Bori just like her. Instead, she snatched her Greedy Kadoatie Piggy Bank off of her desk and plopped down on her Simple Blue Bed. The piggy bank was heavy and swollen, gradually becoming lighter as she emptied it out and carefully counted each gleaming golden coin. 6,000 NP! That's a lot, she cheered silently. Silver scooped the NP into a large coin purse and hesitated. She knew she couldn't complete this mission alone. Who could she take with her? Gracie would just shoot down her idea. Imiri would never want to step foot in Terror Mountain. That left only one option: her younger brother Inky. Silver hurried off to his room, just down the hall from hers.
The young shadow Gelert was adding a Key Quest Key Snowglobe to his extensive snowglobe collection, nestling it among the others on top of his dresser. "Don't you wish it would snow?" Silver blurted out suddenly, bursting into his room. Inky jumped, but calmed down quickly when he saw who it was.
"Yes," he answered, blinking. Longing was clear in his tone. "It's already the month of Celebrating and I haven't seen a single snowflake."
"I know who can help," Silver told him enthusiastically. Her eyes shone with excitement. "Taelia!"
Inky's hopes fell. "But she lives in Terror Mountain," he pointed out bleakly.
"I can afford an Eyrie cab." Silver could hardly keep herself from bouncing up and down. "Oh, Inky, come with me!"
"How can Taelia help us?" her brother asked skeptically.
"She's the Snow Faerie. She must control snow!" Silver rolled her eyes as if this were obvious, but the shadow Gelert remained unmoved. Silver didn't blame him; she was asking him to sneak out of the house and trudge through the cold and wind in a land halfway around Neopia. "I'll buy you a new snowglobe," she coaxed.
"Oh, okay," Inky relented, pulling a Bone Print Gelert Sweater out of his closet. "Let's go."
_____ _____ _____
In a mere half-hour, she and Inky were perched in an Eyrie cab hundreds or even thousands of feet (Silver wasn't sure) above the surface of Neopia. She tried to distract herself from her fear of heights by adjusting her coat, counting her NP, and reminding herself for the umpteenth time that getting snow was worth it. She couldn't believe how easily she had forgotten about it when she was planning this little expedition! It wasn't that she didn't trust the two strong yellow Eyries pulling the carriage - she just couldn't help it.
"Sara will notice that we're gone," Inky muttered. Silver rolled her eyes. My brother is ever the optimist, she thought.
But the Bori just reassured the young Gelert, a confident look on her face: "We'll be back within a few hours."
After nearly sixty minutes of waiting in boredom, Silver was surprised to see a spot of white on the plush royal-blue seat of the cab. More and more snowflakes spiraled down from a slate-gray sky, and one of the Eyries shook himself to remove a dusting of -
"Snow!" Silver cried jubilantly. Inky's dark blue eyes were the size of NP coins as the carriage swooped down into the land of ice and slushies. A group of schoolchildren engaged in a snowball fight - a pine forest blanketed in snow - a Scorchio bravely approaching the Snowager's cave - a pair of elderly Poogles wrapped in scarves - the images flashed before the siblings' eyes in the precious seconds of their descent, until an Eyrie cab stop in the Happy Valley filled their whole field of vision. The Eyries landed carefully, but their talons slipped on a patch of ice, and their load - namely, the carriage - skidded across the partially-cleared landing strip, kicking up flurries of the pure white stuff.
"Thanks for the ride," Silver told the Eyries politely, taking Inky by a paw and tugging him out of the cab. Their spots on the plush seats were quickly taken by a shivering striped Aisha and her owner.
"No problem," one called gruffly as Inky and Silver bounced off into the Happy Valley.
"Brr, I'd forgotten how cold it is here." The shadow Gelert shivered, quickly brightening up as he took in the scene around him. "But the snow is great!"
Silver, for one, was delighted. Every icicle, snowflake, and gust of frigid wind made her heart leap with joy (which is a lot of joy, mind you). The white Bori stuck her tongue out to catch a falling flake and spread out her arms to her wonderful homeland. However, the Bori quickly realized how ridiculous she looked in a matter of seconds. She shook herself and announced briskly, "Right, let's get to Taelia." But she was just as excited as before, even if she was expressing it in a more reserved manner.
Inky nodded, stifling a giggle, and followed his sister through the Happy Valley, weaving around the many shops. As the pair passed the Advent Calendar building, its roof covered in snow and light flickering warmly from its windows, the Gelert cried, "Ooh, the Advent Calendar! Can we go? Can we?"
Silver rolled her eyes and tugged her brother away, following the path to the top of the mountain. "No, Inky." As the pair trudged ever closer to the peak, the crowd thinned out and the snow fell more thickly. Silver observed with excitement that not a patch of bare brown or green earth was to be seen - all was cloaked in a blinding white. The Bori's eyes lit up when she spotted Taelia's abode, a massive structure made completely from hard-packed ice and snow. Inky, however, was focused on other attractions.
"The Super... Fun... Icy Happy Snow Shop! I wanna go there! Please? Please?" The shadow pet's eyes were hopeful.
"It's the Super Happy Icy Fun Snow Shop," Silver snapped, "and NO, you can't go! Did you forget what we came here for?"
Inky fell silent and slunk sulkily along behind his sister. He noticed how determined the Bori's cerulean eyes were as she rapped on Taelia's door. After several short seconds, the Snow Faerie herself flung it wide open.
She was beautiful. Her pitch-black hair - darker than Inky's fur - was sleek and smooth, not a single strand out of place. Her skin looked pale against it. Her large cyan eyes were emphasized by her thick blue eyeshadow. The faerie's feathery wings were two shades - cream and sky blue - and her lips were curled into a gentle smile. She gestured for the two Neopets on her doorstep to come inside.
It was warm in Taelia's dwelling. The three of them seemed to be in some sort of lobby or entrance, the floor polished and the walls made of snow. Before Taelia could say a word, Silver launched into the miniature speech she had prepared on the way over. "Miss - Miss Taelia," Silver began, hoping with all her heart that her plan would work. "It's already the middle of the month of Celebrating, and Neopia Central hasn't seen a single snowflake. Please, great Snow Faerie, we have come to humbly ask you to make it snow in Neopia Central. You see, I am a native of Terror Mountain and desperately miss the snow."
Taelia considered for a few moments. Then she gave a small smile and answered, "First, young Bori, get a few items for me, and then I will reply to your request. I need an Orange Chia Pop, some Xweetok Sugar Cookies, and a Veggie Poogle Wrap," she listed without waiting for Silver to accept.
But Silver didn't take it as rude - instead, she dashed out the door and back onto the mountain without a second thought, Inky right behind her.
_____ _____ _____
Nearly thirty minutes later, Silver and Inky were back at the entrance to Taelia's snow castle. After a lot of searching and some intense haggling, Silver clutched all of the requested items in her claws. Inky slurped at a Strawberry Blend Slushie that Silver had finally bought him from the Slushie Shop. Silver could feel that her problems were about to be solved - that Taelia would gratefully accept the items and grant her request for snow. "Inky, will you please knock?" she asked, because her hands were full of Chia Pops and cookies. The Gelert shifted his slushie to the other paw and knocked loudly.
Taelia appeared at the door and once again welcomed them inside. "You have all the items?" she inquired. Her answer was having all three of them placed in her arms, and Silver gazing up at her with pleading cerulean eyes. But Taelia only smiled and pulled a Wet Snowball out from behind her back, placing it in Silver's claws. "Sometimes, young Bori, the answer is not what you think." And with a swish of her fur-lined blue cloak, she strode into the recesses of her snow fortress, leaving a very distraught white Bori and her brother behind.
_____ _____ _____
On the cab ride home, Silver sat quietly in her seat with the powdery blue snowball in her lap, gazing over the side of the carriage even though she was usually afraid of heights. She did not say a word or give any sign of the disappointment and confusion that raged like a whirlpool within her. Inky looked at her worriedly and offered her a sip of his slushie, but she pushed it away and sighed.
It was like that the whole hour-long ride to Neopia Central; in fact, it was like that right up to the moment she walked up the steps to her Neohome and let herself in. Sara was on her immediately. Her owner's emerald-green eyes were full of anger and anxiety, and her voice was indignant. "Silver, Inky, where were you?! I was so worried! We had to start dinner without you!"
Silver was unable to meet Sara's eyes. "I... I... Inky and I went to Terror Mountain to... ask Taelia to make it snow." The white Bori's voice was quiet. Despite all of her best efforts, tears welled up in her eyes as she presented her owner with the Wet Snowball she had been given. "And after I completed an entire quest for her, all she did was hand me this and say, 'Sometimes the answer is not what you think!' " Salty tears started to trickle down Silver's face.
Instead of saying, "You're grounded!" or, "Don't ever scare me like that again!" as she normally would, Sara instead just stared at the snowball, her green eyes intrigued. "I think I know what Taelia meant." The redhead spoke slowly, and she broke into a grin as she explained her plan to Silver and Inky.
_____ _____ _____
Inky was sent out to round up the children that lived on Wishing Well Drive, and Silver helped Sara to lug out all of the snowballs that had accumulated in her owner's Safety Deposit Box. Sara was always saying that one day Imiri, the battler of the family, would use them in battle, but the golden Pteri never did. Silver couldn't help but smile as she distributed the snowballs among the group that was gathered, thanks to Inky, in front of her house. Then, a wide grin on her face, tossing the Wet Snowball from Taelia up and down, she yelled out, "SNOWBALL FIGHT!"
So, without a speck of snow on the ground, the residents of Wishing Well Drive had the largest snowball fight that anyone could remember taking place in that neighborhood. There was laughter and loud oofs and colored snowballs flying through the air wherever you looked.
And, amid all the happy shrieks and fun, the first snowflakes of winter drifted lazily out of the sky to land on Silver's nose.