My Childhood Neohome: Part Three
My Childhood Neohome, Part Three: Winter is Here
"And this,” announced Rupies, gesturing to the room, “is the Living Room. It’s fantastic for entertaining or just enjoying a warm fire on a cold day.”
The two Kacheeks bounced excitedly, exploring the room while Rupies stood by the entrance. The room was gorgeous, with high ceilings that were a rare site in Neopia Central and a beautiful fireplace as the main focus. The walls were a soft grey and the carpet was plushy and warm beneath their feet. Three windows lined one wall, allowing the room to be lit with natural light during the day.
Rupies sighed, giving them time to look before pushing the sale again. She really hoped that they would just go ahead and buy it – she wanted to get settled in the new place, and her brothers were no help. It was time to let this house go.
“This fireplace,” one of the potential buyers said, “does it work? What can you tell me about it?”
Rupies made her way over to the fireplace and began pointing out the features. It was beautiful, carved from stone and obviously well loved – it was polished to perfection and unmarred by so much as a scratch. As she stepped back to allow the pair to examine it in close quarters, Rupies closed her eyes and thought back to a time when her and her brothers had huddled around this very fireplace while a raging storm blew snow against the windows of their little house. She could almost hear the wind.
Anyone who tried to look in the window that night would see a Lupe, a Lutari and a Chia piled up in front of the fire and covered by every blanket they owned. However, anyone trying to look through a window from the outside would also be pelted by snow and hail. A massive storm was raging over Neopia Central, and the trio was trying their best to stay warm and in good spirits.
The siblings had struggled to find their way to each other when the power had gone out only hours before. It had been Gosun’s idea to light a fire, both for light and for warmth, and Rupies had collected blankets while Piihp had hunted down some snacks to get them through the night. The three sat very close, with Piihp in Gosun’s lap, and talked quietly together while the snow pounded against the sides of their Neohome.
“Well, our choices are cold hot dogs, a melted slushie or a half-eaten chili pizza. Delicious,” Rupies said sarcastically, listing off the meager portions Piihp had been able to carry into the room with his tiny arms.
“Oh, lighten up sis!” Gosun exclaimed with his trademark grin. “We can use the fire poker to cook the hot dogs over the flame! It’ll be just like camping.”
“Yeah Rupies, it’ll be fun!” Piihp joined in, bouncing excitedly on top of a mountain of blankets. He reached over to take a sip of the soupy slushie, while Rupies made a face of disgust.
“And then,” Gosun lowered his voice, a look of devilish glee on his face, “we can tell scary stories.”
“No thank you.” Rupies answered, laying her head on her paws with a huff. “Last summer with Hubrid Nox was about all the spookiness I need in my life.”
“Oh come on Rupies!” Gosun patted her head fondly, laughing when she growled. “Nothing bad really happened. Piihp is safe, and so are we. So what’s really wrong? Are you… scared?”
“I’m not scared!” Exclaimed Piihp, bouncing even higher. Rupies lifted her head and watched her smallest brother carefully, ensuring he was nowhere near the flames. After a few bounces he quieted once again, and she looked back to her larger brother.
“I’m not scared,” she answered. “In fact, why don’t I start?”
Gosun pumped his fists in victory and settled down with a cheesy grin when Rupies shot him an angry look. He made a ‘calm down’ motion with his paws and laughed. “Alright sis, as you wish. Let’s hear it!”
Rupies turned away from her brothers, thinking desperately for a story. Finally she settled on one and began speaking, staring into the dancing flames as they reflected in her eyes.
Once upon a time, there were two Chias who ran a store out of an igloo in Happy Valley, under the shadow of Terror Mountain. Business was good – it was the holiday season, and tourists were flocking to the town for the Advent Calendar. The two Chias, Mike and Carassa, would close up shop each day at sundown. They also lived in the igloo, and would set up sleeping bags each night, huddling close for warmth. Happy Valley was, well, a happy place, and the pair had little to worry about.
Or so they thought.
One day, Mike was startled to find the ground shaking beneath his sleeping bag. Frightened, he woke Carassa, thinking it was a large storm or an earthquake. The two were horrified to spot a huge shadow against the side of the igloo. A large creature was outside, and it seemed to be looking for a way in.
Motioning for silence, Mike carefully inched his way to the front of the igloo. Slowly pulling back the sheet, he peaked around the side and saw…
“Let me guess,” Gosun interrupted, yawning, “It was a Snowbeast.”
Rupies huffed and didn’t answer, while Piihp looked around wildly, a little shaken by the story. “A Snowbeast?!” he said softly.
“Oh, don’t worry Piihp. They live on Terror Mountain, far away.” Gosun smiled at his little brother before looking back at Rupies with a smirk. “And that ISN’T a scary story. In fact, it’s true. I saw it on the news last week. The Defenders of Neopia dealt with it, no problem.”
Growling, Rupies turned to him, “Well, let’s see you do better!”
Gosun opened his mouth to reply when a large BANG caused all three Neopets to look alarmingly at one of the windows. A large crack had appeared along the outside.
“What was-“ CRACK. Another hit, and this time the siblings could make out a dark shape through the thick snowfall outside.
“Hush,” Rupies hissed, stepping protectively in front of her brothers. “Keep quiet.”
“Back up, Rupies.” Gosun slid in front of his sister, ears pinned. “You know I spend way more time training than you do. Just watch Piihp.
The poor little Pea Chia was shaking like a leaf, huddled in so many blankets that only his eyes peered out.
CRACK. Another line appeared on the window, and Gosun turned to Rupies, snarling. “Grab a piece of wood, or something! We have to board that window up before it breaks!”
Rupies nodded, rushing off to find something. Pulling a shelf out of one of their bookcases, she ran back to the Living Room, passing it to the Lutari. He approached the window slowly, watching the dark form ominously standing outside in the storm. Carefully, he placed the wood over the window, filling all but the top 2 inches of the frame. Instantly another loud CRACK sounded, and the three Neopets backed up quickly.
As the wind quieted, the trio huddled together under the blankets, eyes fixed on the board and the dark shadow just barely visible through small gap on top.
“Do you think… do you think it might be a Snowbeast?” Piihp whispered softly, shivering. Rupies didn’t answer, wrapping her tail securely around him until he fell into an uneasy sleep. She and her older brother remained that way, staring at the window, until morning.
The shadow left with the night, giving way to the kind of beautiful sunrise that only appears after a true storm. Stretching aching muscles, Gosun and Rupies slowly approached the window. Gosun carefully removed the board, and the two peered through the spyderweb of cracks for any sign of – well, whatever it had been – outside.
Suddenly, Gosun snorted. Startled, Rupies flattened her ears as he began to laugh. Finally waking up, Piihp cried out in alarm and backed as far from the window as he could. “What if the monster is still out there?!”
“Oh Piihp, come here!” Gosun picked up his brother and walked back towards the window, still laughing. “There’s your monster.”
He was pointing to the big tree on the side of the house. One branch had broken part of the way and was swinging gently in the breeze. Bits of bark littered the ground below the window. In the dark, the tree had looked exactly like a Snowbeast, poised to attack.
Rupies smiled secretly to herself at the memory. The window had long since been fixed, and the buyers suspected nothing out of the ordinary as they finished exploring the room.
As she gazed out that same window, Rupies saw the tree – now in full bloom with the ending of Spring and imminent arrival of Summer. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the howling of the wind.
Waiting patiently for the Kacheeks to finish, Rupies led them to the next part of the Neohome.
To be continued…