A Baby and a Brute: Part One
A heavy snow fell in the Haunted Woods. It had lightened up from the blizzard of the day before. The wind tore through the woods with a fearsome howl, rattling the leafless branches. Everything was white but it was far from a winter wonderland. A lone figure trekked through the deep snow.
His faded and tattered cloak was little protection in this weather. Though, he was hardly out for the sake of his health. An urgent matter drove him on. Thankfully, he didn’t have far to go. His destination loomed large in front of him.
As he approached, the front door swung open with an ominous creak. He hastily stepped inside, dripping snow on the ancient floors. He waited only momentarily before the Duke and Duchess Torch, along with three of their four children, entered. The visitor’s expression as well as the poor weather outside made it clear that this was not a social call. He just hoped that his faith had not been misplaced.
“Heebie and I need your help,” the visitor began, drawing out a poorly wrapped bundle to reveal a baby Bori.
All of the Torches gasped, hardly believing their eyes.
“What happened to your brother, Brutus?” Duke Torch asked.
The family gathered around the baby. Duchess Torch took Heebie from Brutus and held him. They were used to the intimidating zombie Bori that Heebie usually was. Now, he couldn’t scare a Faellie. He was a far from his normal self as he could get.
“I want my brother back. There’s no way I can take care of a baby!” Brutus grimaced, red eyes anxious.
“He needs to be painted,” Duke Torch said.
“We have no Zombie Paint Brushes. One will have to be bought,” Duchess Torch said.
Brutus looked down. The mutant Bori was not well off. He couldn’t afford to buy new clothes, let alone a paint brush. The middle Torch daughter, Ana, had been listening in concerned silence. With the lull, she spoke up.
“Perhaps you could speak to Naia, the Fountain Faerie. If you explained the situation, she may allow Heebie to use it,” the young blue Bori said.
Marc, the second oldest Torch child, smiled at his favourite sister. “That’s a great idea, Ana!”
Their parents nodded in agreement. Their middle daughter was sensitive and thoughtful. She often brought clarity to situations.
“Yes, it is certainly worth a try,” Duke Torch said.
“You’ll wait out the storm, of course. I’ll settle Heebie and G.B. in the nursery. A room has been prepared for you, Brutus. A carriage will prepared for your journey. We have plenty of family in Faerieland that will be more than willing to help you,” Duchess Torch said.
The family dispersed leaving Brutus and Ana alone. The girl smiled encouragingly at her friend.
“Heebie will soon be back to his old self. You’ll see,” Ana said.
“I certainly hope so. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours yet and I already miss him,” Brutus said.
“I felt just the same when Amalia and Marc moved out. Though, it helps that Marc still lives in the Haunted Woods. I rarely see my oldest sister anymore, except for holidays.”
There was a brief, comfortable silence. They had known each other their entire lives. They had never needed to fill the air with words.
“Are you hungry, Brutus?” Ana looked up at the other Bori curiously.
The mutant Bori looked on the verge of refusing; the blue Bori didn’t give him a chance. She knew how to get him to agree.
“We’ve got Ectoplasm Nachos,” Ana said.
Brutus smiled and his small eyes lit up. “My favorite. OK, I could eat.”
The two Bori went to the kitchen and then to a parlour. A fire roared in the fireplace. As they enjoyed their snack, they enjoyed one another’s company. Though, they didn’t linger. An early start the next day would be best.
The snow had stopped falling by morning. The wind was still fierce but a carriage was prepared for Brutus. He wouldn’t have to go on foot through the snow. It was decided that Heebie would stay with the Torches. No need to take the baby out in this mess if it wasn’t necessary.
“I’d like to go with Brutus,” Ana announced.
Duke and Duchess Torch looked at their daughter in surprise.
“Why?” Duke Torch asked.
“Brutus doesn’t know the area. He’s never left the Haunted Woods. He’ll need help and I can do that,” Ana said.
“Very well. You may go.”
Ana hugged and kissed her parents goodbye before entering the carriage. With the snow, the normally hour long journey would take most of the morning. Not an issue for the two Bori. With good company and ever-changing scenery, it would be a pleasant journey. Brutus looked at Ana curiously.
“You don’t know Faerieland well,” Brutus said matter-of-factly.
Ana smiled, shaking her head no slowly.
“Yet you still came?”
“It’s not the Haunted Woods. Even if we do get lost someone will be willing to help us.”
“I’m glad to have your company, Ana. It means a lot to me.”
As they left the Haunted Woods and neared Faerieland, the snow began to clear. When they arrived in Faerieland, they were surprised to find the weather closer to that of a pleasant spring day than the heart of winter. Neopets, Petpets and faeries abounded. If she were alone, they would have completely ignored Ana. Though, plenty openly stared at Brutus.
Unable to meet these many eyes with his own, the mutant Bori looked at his feet instead. Ana slipped her hand into the large, rough hand of Brutus and began to walk. She could hear the whispers but ignored them. She wasn’t exactly sure where she was going but she didn’t let that stop her. Brutus let her lead him.
A familiar voice calling her name finally made the young Bori pause. Aubrey, her faerie Zafara cousin, flew towards her. Aubrey’s faerie Cobrall, Habib, flew in front of his owner, reaching the Bori first. He flew around them with a hiss of greeting. Surprised, Brutus looked up as the Zafara reached them.
“Hey, what are you doing here? Who’s this? Where’s the rest of your family?” Aubrey’s questions spilled out in a rush.
“This is my longtime friend, Brutus. My parents gave me permission to travel to Faerieland with him, since he’s never been here before,” Ana explained.
“We’re here because I must speak with Naia,” Brutus began when Aubrey cut him off.
“Drank a transmogrification potion by mistake, huh?” the faerie Zafara guessed.
“No, not for me. My brother was zapped by Boochi.”
“Say no more. Brother must have been painted an expensive color. I would hate to be a baby, especially out of the blue like that!”
The faerie Zafara shuddered in horror at this terrible thought. Then, she grinned at the two Bori.
“Good thing I showed up when I did. You have no idea where you’re going. You’re headed towards Faerie City. The Rainbow Fountain is that way,” Aubrey said, pointing in the complete opposite direction than they had been heading.
“Aubrey, will you please take us to Naia?” Ana asked.
“Sure! I’ve got time and it’s not that far away.”
The faerie Zafara led the way confidently, chattering all the while. She seemed to be taking her role as guide cheerfully. She would point things out to the Haunted Woods natives and explain what they were. While others still stopped to stare, they weren’t as many. Aubrey was correct when she said that it would be an easy walk.
Naia sat at the edge of her fountain, watching as a glowing Grarrl entered the magical waters. A moment later he emerged as a stealthy Grarrl. He pulled his mask away from his mouth and gave the Fountain Faerie a toothy grin. He thanked her and walked away, nodding his head to Aubrey, Ana and Brutus in acknowledgement as he passed them. Brutus stopped in his tracks, suddenly overcome by nerves.
While they walked, Ana had held Brutus’ hand. She gave an encouraging squeeze. Gathering himself, the mutant Bori approached the Fountain Faerie. She watched him with a kindly gaze before smiling at Aubrey in hello. Brutus took a deep breath, finally feeling able to speak.
“Naia, I’ve traveled all the way from the Haunted Woods because my brother needs your help. He was once a zombie Bori but was zapped by Boochi yesterday evening. Will you please allow him to bathe in your fountain and return to being a zombie?” Losing his confidence, the mutant Bori tapped his claws nervously together.
Naia had listened in attentive silence but when Brutus finished, she shook her head regretfully. “I’m sorry to hear about your brother but I’m afraid I can’t help him. Only Neopets that complete one of my quests are allowed into my fountain.”
“Then please give me a quest! I’ll gladly do anything you ask.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
Defeated, Brutus turned away and Ana followed him. Aubrey said goodbye to Naia before going after the Bori.
“Now my brother is going to remain a baby forever!” Brutus wailed like a baby himself.
“Too bad it didn’t work out,” Aubrey said.
“We’ll go home and my parents will help us figure something out. Heebie will be returned his zombie self,” Ana said.
“Hey, you guys have to stop by my parents’. They’ll love a surprise visit from you, Ana.”
“No, Aubrey. We will visit them another time. For now, we’d like to be left alone, please.”
“Brutus, don’t let this one rejection get you down. Uncle Ti and Aunt Amorine are the best. If anyone can help Heebie, it’s them. IF you guys change your minds about visiting my family, here’s our address. I hope to see you later.”
With a cheery wave, the faerie Zafara zoomed off. Ana looked at Brutus. The mutant Bori was staring into space.
“Faerieland is beautiful. I would love to have a picnic,” Ana suggested.
Not many were able to resist the gentle blue Bori. Yet, the girl wasn’t spoiled and retained a remarkable sweetness of temper, despite her unpleasant surroundings. She was like a rose in the Woods and took after her mother in looks and personality. Brutus gave no objection to Ana. So, the pair of Bori strolled through Faerie City and bought some provisions for their picnic.
“Are you sure this stuff is safe to eat?” Brutus eyed the brightly colored, glowing and floating food in the Faerie Food Shop dubiously.
Ana smiled at her friend. This coming from the ‘pet that eagerly ate things such as Bagels with Scream Cheese, Baked Intesteen and Beast Burgers. Though, she could certainly understand how he felt. Everything was so different here. Faerieland was a far cry from their beloved Woods.
The blue Bori looked around them at the busy shop. “It must be safe. Look at the crowd in here. We’ll find something agreeable, I’m sure.”
“Let’s hurry, please,” Brutus said in a low tone to Ana.
Most of the customers were giving the mutant Bori a wide berth but it didn’t stop them from staring. Brutus could feel their eyes on him, most of them not pleasant.
“Is that a monster, Mother?” A baby Gnorbu asked his mother before she pulled him hurriedly away.
Ana and Brutus had heard the child’s innocent question. The blue Bori quickly bought sandwiches, a side dish, drinks and a dessert before they left.
“You’re not a monster, Brutus,” Ana said firmly, clearly reading her friend’s mind.
“What use is that if everyone believes otherwise?” Brutus protested.
“Not everyone. Those of us that matter know that your heart is bigger than you are.”
It was a relief to leave the city and to find a quiet glade where they could enjoy their picnic. They didn’t speak much, able to leave each other alone with their thoughts. Crowds were not fun for either Bori and they needed this small break to recharge their batteries. It wasn’t too long before they finished. They cleaned up after themselves and were ready to face the wider world once more.
“I’d like to buy gifts for my family. It isn’t every day we visit Faerieland,” Ana said.
“Alright, as long as we don’t stay too long,” Brutus said.
“Faerieland is nice but it isn’t home.”
They returned to the city. Ana loved shopping for her family. She chose everything with care. She gladly included Brutus in her decisions and her joy infected him. The first gift was cologne for her father.
“Father prefers his cologne imported from Altador but I believe he’ll like this one,” Ana said, placing the small bottle in her bag.
Their second stop was the book shop. Ana’s mother was an avid reader so a new book would be a welcome gift. There were several options available. Again, many of them glowed, sparkled or flew. Finally, Ana picked a thick pink volume with a set of wings.
“Never Ending Faerie Tales,” Ana read the title.
“Sounds like a keeper,” Brutus said.
“Yes and look, each time I open the book, the story changes! Mother would love this. We don’t get books like this in the Woods.”
The book joined the cologne in Ana’s bag before they moved on to the next shop.
To be continued…