The Adventures of Peppermint
Everything was so... beautiful.
Peppermint stood in sheer awe with her nose pressed to the window of her shop. Outside was a world of magic and wonders that she had never seen before. There was lights everywhere outside, twinkling merry lights that adorned the giant snow covered Holiday Trees outside. Young Neopets laughed beneath these trees as they threw snowballs at one another while the older ones ice skated on the glossy frozen lake. Meanwhile the smell of the freshest hot chocolate wafted through the chilly air. Never had Peppermint seen Happy Valley so bright and merry.
From her vantage point on the table, Peppermint was able to see a large magnificent house at the far end of Happy Valley. It was a beautiful house with three twinkling stars on its roof and a spinning thing that kind of made Peppermint dizzy. She wanted to know what was inside that house. Every so often Neopets would walk into that house and leave it extremely happy. What was inside that house? Was it the place where happiness was made? Or is where the stars go when the sleep at-
"Now, now, Peppermint. You shouldn't be standing on the table like that."
A pair of strong flippers lifted Peppermint up from the table. For a moment, the young Candychan squirmed to escape even though she knew escape was futile. She flapped her soft green wings and pouted. That only made Mr. Frost, the kind Winter PetPet Shoppe Owner, laugh.
"You know I just don't want you hurt, Peppermint," he said as he placed the young Candychan down next to her house. It a pretty little house, decorated to match the celebration outside. "I promise, the Winter Starlight Celebration isn't going anywhere and you'll get your chance to see it."
Peppermint pouted some more. Even though she knew that she would get her chance to see the celebration eventually, there was another reason why she watched the window every day since the celebration started. She watched that window every day in hopes that she'd be noticed then someone would come in and bring her home with them.
There was twinkling of golden bells and Mr. Frost turned from Peppermint to go answer the door. Curious, the young petpet started to follow once she was certain Mr. Frost wouldn't notice. She heard Mr. Frost laugh and there was singing coming from a large group of Neopets in front of him. Meanwhile, the door was left ajar.
Taking a few careful steps, Peppermint made her way across the store. Mr. Frost was talking to an elderly Kacheek who was in charge of these carolers. Peppermint stood at the door, her little hands touching the cold wood. Mr. Frost was still distracted talking. The rest of the carolers had moved on to sing somewhere else.
Did she dare?
Peppermint inhaled and carefully peeked out from behind the door. A smile spread across the young perpet's face and her eyes lit up. The Winter Starlight Celebration was much more beautiful when there wasn't a windowpane in the way. It started at the tip of her nose and went all the way down to her toes - this feeling of warmth and wonder. Before she knew it, the young Candychan was making her way out of the store and into the blustering laughter of the Winter Starlight Celebration.
- - -
"Hahahaha! Got you!"
"And on the first day of Giving my true love gave to me!"
"Hot warm delicious chocolate! Don't like chocolate? Try some Borovan instead!"
"Gift tags? Did I forget to get the gift tags?!"
Everywhere she walked, there was something new for Peppermint to see. From the moment Peppermint left the Mr. Frosts's Wintery Petpet Shoppe, she felt like she had been transported to a whole new world. She was no longer just watching these Neopets singing Celebration Songs, she was standing there with them. Outside, she could finally breathe in an entire lungful of that sweet hot chocolate smell. The falling snow was no longer just pretty what dots. When one landed on her paw, Peppermint saw that they weren't dots - they were flakes. Each tiny little dot - no, flake - was also unique!
Peppermint smiled as she brought a flake up to examine further. Before she could however, a whizzing snowball came hurling at her. Peppermint gasped as it hit her hard, knocking her over into the snow. Of course, now that she was outside she was no longer watching the snowball fights. She's now standing in the middle of one.
"Watch where you're throwing that, Noel! You almost got me in there eye!"
Head spinning, Peppermint sat up and felt dizzy. Still, she could see a red Kyrii standing a bit ways from her. The Kyrii was armed with a snowball and grinning at her friend, a yellow Poogle.
"I told you to duck!" shouted the Poogle as he jogged over. He paused for a moment and looked right at Peppermint. "But instead of hitting you, I think I got something else."
Peppermint froze. The Kyrii had turned around and saw Peppermint as well. The Kyrii's eyes widen and dropped the snowball she had been holding.
"Oh Fyora..." whispered the Kyrii as she started to kneel down. "It's a petpet..."
The Poogle knelt down also, a look of puzzlement on his face. Then his face lit up and he placed a hand out towards Peppermint. "Not just any petpet, either, it's a Candychan... these things are super rare. Hey Candychan... come here, I'm not going to hurt you..."
As she watched the Poogle, Peppermint looked from his hand to his face. The Poogle seemed kind enough so she took a step towards the two Neopets.
"That's right, come here. I just want to be friends."
Friends. That's all Peppermint had ever wanted.
"Mhm, you friend... Psst, hey, Holly, how much do you think Candychans will go for in the Trading Post? Eleven million? Twelve?"
Peppermint's pointed ears twitched when she heard the Poogle whisper to his friend. Trading Post? They were going to put her on the Trading Post?! Hurt and betrayed, Peppermint stopped walking and took a step back. They told her that they would be her friend.
"Huh? It's walking away," said the Kyrii as she pointed at Peppermint.
Peppermint's eyes widened.
"Uh-uh, you're not getting away that easily!" said the Poogle, a scowl on his face as he stood up and walked over to Candychan. "Get it!"
No hesitation. Peppermint turned and ran.
The ragtag group tore through the Winter Starlight Celebration with Peppermint in the front and the Poogle and Kyrii chasing after her. Peppermint wove through the crowds, her short little legs running as fast as they could. Several times she jumped, attempting to fly, but since she never fully learned how to fly at the shoppe all Peppermint could do was glide for a few steps before falling.
"Be careful, you little brats! Don't just run into people like that!"
"GET OUT OF OUR WAY!!!"
From the shouts of warning and anger behind her, Peppermint knew that her pursuers weren't far behind. She turned around to see just how far but that moment of distraction was all it took for disaster to strike.
"Hot Borovan! Get your nice pipping hot cup of BORO-WHOA!!!"
Crashing face first into a large Tsukaninny selling cups of hot Borovan and Hot Chocolate, Peppermint was once again dazed. Before she could recover, the Poogle and Kyrii caught up. With the ice and snow, however, neither of them were able to stop properly and went sliding right into the Tsukanniny...
And his giant cauldron of Borovan.
There was Borovan everywhere. The hot sticky liquid spilled all over the ice and snow, splashing all the surrounding Neopets. From the carolers to the ice skating couples to the Neopets waiting for their Gift Tags from the Gift Tag booth, no one was spared. Peppermint coughed after swallowing the mouthful of ice and Borovan she had fallen into. The young petpet shuddered. Borovan and ice did not mix well.
"What do you little brats think you're doing?" shouted the Borovan Tsukanniny as he stood up and glowered at the Poogle and Kyrii.
Peppermint took this as her cue to escape. Unlodging herself from the snow, Peppermint ran as fast as she could away from the chaotic scene.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cocoa!" pleaded the Kyrii.
"Yeah! We didn't mean to run into you!" said the Poogle. "We were just chasing after the Candychan we found while playing the snow?"
"A Candychan? There isn't any Candychan around here! Can't either of you ever stay out of trouble for once?"
Panting, Peppermint ran as fast as she could. She wasn't sure where she was going, but the Candychan knew that she had to get as far away from trouble as possible. So she ran. She ran and ran and ran until the last ray of sun touched down behind the mountain. That was when Peppermint realized that she was very, very lost.
Slowly coming to a stop, Peppermint looked around. Suddenly the beautiful snow laden trees were no longer beautiful. They were terrifying. Dark shadows swirled around her as the Candychan looked around every which way for the path back to Mr. Frost's shoppe. As she looked around, however, Peppermint realized that the blustering wind had swept away her footprints. She didn't know which way she had came from.
The wind howled around her as Peppermint hugged herself tightly. Not only was she lost, she was also very cold and very hungry. Mr. Frost was right, she should've known to stay out of trouble. Looking around again, Peppermint decided that she shouldn't just stand around. She had find shelter of some sort but how? The only shelter she ever knew was her little house with the twinkling lights decorating it all nice and pretty.
Each step Peppermint took became harder and harder. Snow started to fall again but it wasn't the pretty delicate snow. This snow was hard and came down in sheets. A storm brewing storm began to sweep through Terror Mountain. Peppermint had to find shelter and soon.
A dark empty cave caught the Candychan's attention. It didn't look like any shelter she knew but it looked dry and warm. She had no other choice but to go there. Peppermint forced her way through the storm towards the cave and collapsed onto the dry dirt. Tears started to form in her eyes as she curled into a tiny little ball. She was tired, cold and miserable. Most of all, Peppermint wanted to go home. Home was warm. Home was safe.
Just as sleep started to drift in to comfort her, the sound of crunching snow caught Peppermint's attention. Her eyes snapped open instantly. What was that sound? Cautiously, the Candychan sat up and looked outside the cave.
There in the swirling storm was a shadow. It was bellowing large shadow with gleaming eyes, flapping wings and monstrous groan. Fear overcame Peppermint as she stepped away from the mouth of the cave. Back at the shop, Peppermint had heard Mr. Frost talking to his customers about this monster. It was a monster with a black heart and an unending appetite for petpets. On stormy winters like this one, this monster would venture out to find stray petpets and devour them whole. Peppermint always thought that stories about the Snowbeast were nothing more than rumors.
Turning around, Peppermint ran as fast as she could to the farthest corner of the cave. If she can't see the Snowbeast then maybe it can't see her. The Candychan dove behind a pile of rocks and quivered.
A groan echoed through the cave. Then the clattering sound of a bag dropping onto the floor followed. The Snowbeast groaned again.
Peppermint was certain that it would smell her fear and come eat her at any moment. Minutes passed however and nothing happened. Instead, there was several flicks and a warm light started to dance through the cave. Peppermint peeked through her fingers and opened her eyes. Light... there was light.
Looking out from behind the rocks, Peppermint stood and watched the roaring campfire dance in the middle of the cave. Her eyes widen as she felt the warmth spread throughout her entire body. Slowly she walked out from the rocks towards the light. For a moment she could care less about the Snowbeast. All Peppermint wanted was to be warm. So she little Candychan sat down by the fire and curled into a little ball in front of it.
"Well, what do we have here?"
That voice didn't sound very menacing at all.
Peppermint turned over and saw a kind Christmas Uni looking down at her. There was a warm smile on his face as he took off the goggles he had been wearing. Bending down, the Uni watched Peppermint as she curled into herself tighter.
"Aww, you poor thing, you're lost, aren't you?" asked the Uni as he sat down next to her. "There, there, you must be very cold. Wait here..."
When the Uni returned, Peppermint felt something heavy and warm drape over her body. She uncurled and squiggled happily. The Uni had placed his jacket over her. Seeing this, the Uni laughed before he took a Gingerbread Cookie from his pack and broke off a small corner for Peppermint.
"Here, it's not much, but it's all I have until I get back to Happy Valley..."
Grateful, Peppermint took the cookie and ate it. As the Uni ate his cookie he stared at Peppermint for a moment.
"You know, you look really familiar..." There was pause. "Wait, you're one of Mr. Frost's petpets, aren't you? He got you in only a few days ago. I remember seeing you when I went to deliver Mr. Frost his advent calendar gifts."
Peppermint only looked up at the Uni. She didn't remember his name but she did remember him now that he mentioned it. The Uni came with lots of presents for Mr. Frost and Peppermint remembered watching him walk back to that wonderful building after he was done. The one thing Peppermint remembered most was how kind the Uni was to all the petpets in the store.
The Uni smiled as he placed a hand out for Peppermint to shake. "Well, I don't know your name, but you should know mine at least. The name's Aspen."
Still wary from the last time someone gave her their hand, Peppermint watched Aspen warily. When the Uni laughed and pulled back Peppermint instantly regretted not taking his hand.
"It's okay if you're scared," said Aspen as he turned back to his pack and got out another cookie. He broke off another piece and gave it to Peppermint. "We all know not to talk to strangers anyways." Aspen chewed his cookie carefully before he looked at Peppermint. "You know what? Stick with me for the night, okay? Tomorrow I'll take you back to Happy Valley. I'm sure Mr. Frost must be very worried about you."
Spend the night with this Uni. Peppermint looked down at the cookie in her hand. He seemed nice enough.
"And tell you what? You can keep the jacket. I'll sleep here..." Aspen stood up and walked a few steps away from Peppermint and sat down. "And you sleep there. You can leave whenever you want and I won't be able to stop you."
Sounds fair enough.
After eating the last of her cookie, Peppermint started to settle down under Aspen's jacket again. Still, she watched as the Uni curled up and started to drift off to sleep. Peppermint knew that she had a long day ahead of her but the petpet couldn't sleep, not like this. Carefully slipping out from under the jacket, Peppermint started to pull the heavy jacket towards Aspen. It took a lot of her energy but once she got to the sleeping Uni, Peppermint tossed the jacket the best she could over him. The jacket only got halfway but Peppermint was too tired to pull the Jacket over the rest of him. She then got under the jacket and curled up next to the Uni. There was no way she could let a Neopet who had been so kind to her sleep in the cold.
Just as Peppermint started to drift off to sleep, she felt Aspen turn behind her. The jacket shifted and Peppermint felt Aspen put and arm around her, protecting her from the cold. The little petpet smiled as sleep fell over her. It started at the tip of her nose to the very bottom of her toes... this warmth she had been looking for.
- - -
"I was so worried about you, Peppermint! I can't believe you managed to sneak out like that!"
Peppermint stood on the table, a terrible feeling of guilt weighing on her shoulders. Although Mr. Frost was more relieved than angry at her disappearance, Peppermint still felt like she should have been yelled at more. After all, she did a very terrible thing leaving the shoppe like that.
"I found her near the Ice Caves, poor thing looked like she was having a terrible day," said Aspen. "But she's home now and that's all that matters."
Mr. Frost nodded as he looked down at Peppermint sternly. "Think you've learned your lesson, Peppermint?"
Peppermint nodded. She had definitely learned her lesson and then some.
The Bruce sighed as he hugged Peppermint tightly. "Well, I'm just glad you're home and that Aspen managed to find you before those poachers - or worse the Snowbeast - found you. Anyways-"
"Anyways, Mr. Frost?" interrupted Aspen.
Coughing a bit as if stalling, Aspen inhaled before looking at the shop owner. "I was wondering if I could adopt Peppermint. It's obvious that she's quite an adventurer and keeping her here is only going to make her have a bad case of wanderlust again. Since I travel a lot to deliver gifts from the Advent Calender, Peppermint would be able to see parts of Neopia with me. Plus, I'd love to have a petpet travel with me. Makes the trip a lot less lonely that way."
Peppermint looked up from the table she was standing on and turned to Aspen. She could hardly believe what she heard. Did Aspen really want to adopt her? A smile made its way across her face as the little Candychan hopped from the table and ran towards the Christmas Uni. She hugged him tightly. A friend, someone wanted to be her friend.
There was long moment of silence as Mr. Frost watched Peppermint and Aspen. Finally he turned and walked towards the registers. "Well, it seems as if Peppermint has taken quite a shining to you, Aspen," he said before pressing a few buttons on his register. "I'll tell you what, I'll let you adopt Peppermint but on one condition."
Both Peppermint and Aspen looked at Mr. Frost.
"What is it, sir?" asked Aspen.
"The Winter Starlight Celebration ends at the end of this month. Instead of paying for Peppermint, I would like you and Peppermint to come in every day after the Celebration ends and help out around the store. After all, the Advent Calendar is ending soon and I'll need a strong brave lad like yourself to help me. Also, that way, Peppermint can visit all her friends here as well." Mr. Frost looked up at Aspen and Peppermint, a wide grin on his face. "How does that sound?"
This was the second time Peppermint could hardly believe what she heard. She looked up at Aspen and saw that he was grinning also. Bending down the Uni picked up Peppermint and hugged her tightly.
"Thank you, Mr. Frost!" said Aspen. The Uni and the Bruce exchanged warm wishes for the month of Celebrating before Aspen carried Peppermint out of the store. Once outside the both of them inhaled deeply.
"So, Peppermint..." Aspen smiled as he pointed at the Advent Calender house. "Do you want to see where dreams come true every year?"
Peppermint could barely contain her smile. Her dream of finding a forever friend has finally came true. A warm feeling started to spread from the tip her nose to the bottom of her toes as she and Aspen approached the Advent Calendar house. This warmth, it was the warmth of friendship. Peppermint also knew that it was more than that.
Her wish came true and she was excited to help make other dreams come true as well.