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A Sparkle That Shone in Her Eyes: Part One

by basketballnsoccer25


"Grandmother, come look!" A little blue Kacheek, no more than a year old, hopped up and down on his feet as he pointed a chubby finger out the chilly window. "Grandmother, please come see!"

     An old, elderly Kacheek stood herself up from her rocking chair beside the cackling fireplace, strolling to her grandson's place by the window, the dark wool dress swaying with her step.

     "Grandmother," squealed the Kacheek again, still bouncing in his place, "That Usul has been passing our house every single week! She was even out there in the cold when that huge snowstorm hit us! Every week, at this time, she walks down this street alone! Grandmother, what's wrong with her? Does she have a home? Why does she always smile, even though it's freezing out there? Why… " The Kacheek rambled on, asking any questions that popped up into his mind.

     The aged Kacheek adjusted her thick spectacles, peering through the window and out into the melting snow that lay before her. Her eyes were weary, getting worse and worse with each passing year. Squinting, she saw the blatant figure of a red Usul, draped in the heaviest fur coat decked with shiny red buttons. Her matching rubber boots disappeared in the wet snow as it sank underneath her weight, reappearing for only a moment before it dove down into the snow again.

     The elderly Kacheek smiled, the creases in her face bending with her features. Her eyes softened to see the Usul clambering up the street in the chilly weather. The young Kacheek, confused at his grandmother's face expression, cocked his head to the side in wonderment.

     "What is it Grandmother?" he peeped in a high voice. "Who is she?"

     Without a word, the old Kacheek strode back to her chair beside the stirring fire. The young Kacheek tailed behind, his face blank and baffled, and sat on the rug next to her, awaiting her reply.

     "That Usul you see there, is named Nadia," the elderly Kacheek spoke, still gazing into the crisp fire as it popped and sizzled.

     "Why is she always walking up this street?" asked the young Kacheek, leaning in to catch every word. "She seems very lonely, but smiles all the time, like she knows about something very funny."

     "Well, little one, that might be quiet a long story!" replied the grandmother. "As long as you won't fidget and keep an open mind, I'd be willing to tell you."

     The little Kacheek's eyes lit up. "Yes, please Grandmother! Tell!"

     The grandmother chuckled. "Alright then. It all began one winter a few years ago…"

     * * *

     "Frederick! Nadia!" A yellow Kau heavily wrapped in wool jackets called out into the yard. "Quickly, get your sleds! The Kiko Blimp is here!"

     "Yes, Mother!" Two young Neopets, a red Usul and a green Bruce with thick spectacles came scrambling down the hillside, skidding and slipping down the icy slope as they went. Their little wool caps bobbed up and down as they scurried to their mother's side, tugging their toboggans behind them.

     "Alright now," the mother said sternly to them as she wrapped a heavy scarf around the little Bruce's neck. "I expect your best behavior on your trip to the Valley! That means no pushing, screaming, whining, or attitude! If I hear about - "

     "Muhrf!" the Bruce cried, his voice muffled as his mother continued to wrap the scarf around his head. "Tooh tie! Tooh tie!"

     "Oops, sorry Frederick," the mother said, loosening the grip. "Anyways, if I hear about any bad manners on your behalf, this will be the last year I'll let the both of you go alone. Is that understood?" The two young Neopets nodded quickly, afraid to protest.

     "Okay children!" The mother's forbidding gaze lifted to reveal a radiant and cheerful smile. "The blimp is in the front. Make sure your hats, gloves, and scarves are always on tight! Come home on the six o'clock blimp, and stay together. Have fun you two!"

     "Yay!" screamed the two young Neopets in pleasure, despite the lecture they were just given. They hugged their mother good-bye and hopped to the front of the yard with their toboggans dragging behind, boarding the large and vibrant Kiko blimp that would transport them to Happy Valley.

     "Oh, I can't wait!" shrieked the young Usul to her brother as they clambered up into the blimp. "This is the first time I've been to the Valley! Tell me, is it fun? Do you really feel the icy wind in your hair as you ride down the hills?"

     "Absolutely, Nadia!" the older Bruce replied, his voice muffled by the layers of scarves he wore. "The fierce bite of the wind claws at your fur, but it's all for the better. You'll have a wonderful time, without a doubt! I've never seen anyone ride that sled as fast as you after all."

     "Is everyone set?" asked the captain with a chirpy smile. Nadia and Frederick nodded, returning the merry gesture.

     "Then off we go!" He blew the tin green whistle strapped around his neck, and the crew lifted the blimp off. Nadia beamed, looking up into the dull gray sky that began to encase the blimp. The muddled sun tinged of gold as its beams fought through the thickness of the rasping air. Looking down, she saw her mother, squinting up at them and waving. She waved back, her smile twinkling like the pure snow, watching as her mother grew smaller and smaller.

     "Next stop, Aisha Avenue!" shouted the captain, blowing his whistle countless times and drilling the blimpmates. As the blimp continued to load passengers from all points of Neopia, the two siblings gazed off into the morning sky, absorbed in their own thoughts.

     Nadia envisioned herself cascading down the slopes as easily and water runs in the fountains of healing springs. Her heart fluttered at the thought of whizzing down the slopes of Happy Valley on her lucky red toboggan, the evergreen trees whisking past her as the crisp and frozen air pricked ferociously at her ears and nose. But it would all be worth it.

     A faint smile spread across Nadia's lips as she surveyed the land below. Frederick, seeing his sister's expression, asked, "What are you thinking about?"

     "Oh, nothing," she giggled, gently poking at Frederick's large mass of scarves. "Just picturing myself racing past you on my sled."

     "Pah, you only wish Nadia," Frederick replied, chuckling.

     "At the rate that you go on that sled, I bet that a Slugawoo would seem like a rocket ship roaring past!"

     "Hardy har har," Frederick said as Nadia covered her mouth to soften her chortles, although he too, had an awkward smile plastered on his face. "At least I'll be in one piece when I'm at the bottom of the hill!"

     "Oh yeah?" Nadia challenged. "Well…"

     The bickering and teasing did not cease as the duo glided over towns and cities on the blimp. All of Neopia seemed white and bland, the smoke rising over the clouds from the tall chimneys and yellow candlelit windows illuminating the cold thresholds. It was the time of year in which Nadia and Frederick would carry on their annual tradition of sledding. As they continued to hover over Neopia, the two siblings broke out in song, singing merry carols that would crack a smile on the other passengers. In the glum of winter, this was an event that made everything worthwhile.

     After the blimp ride, the two arrived in the snowy capes of Happy Valley. Immediately, the two raced off the boat before the other travelers with their sleds trailing behind, tumbling into the high snow banks that rose above along the sides of the pathway. Giggles and bundles of laughter could be heard among the immense piles of snow.

     After enjoying the high walls of snow, Nadia and Frederick clambered out of the mounds and with their toboggans, ran up one of the hillsides as fast as their legs could carry them. Hundreds of other Neopets were at the sight as well, skiing and sledding down the very same slopes and having a fantastic time.

     Throughout the rest of the winter day, the two siblings whisked down the busy hills of Happy Valley. Up and down they went, swerving by fallen boulders and tall evergreens, descending down the sides of the valley. Chilling winds snarled at their scarves and picked at their noses, but nevertheless, their giggles and laughter rang throughout the entire basin.

     During midday, snowflakes began to tumble from the heavy sky and soon a heavy snowstorm was before them. Nadia and Frederick ducked for cover, blinded by the snow, and sought shelter in one of the various Happy Valley stores. The ended up in the Slushie Shop, filling their hungry bellies with more icy coldness. As they were slurping their slushies, Nadia looked out the store window, longing to go outside and sled again. Through the cumbersome snow, she caught sight of a large, steep slope, stretching far longer than all the other hills they had been on earlier. She watched as a dark speck from the very top of the slope came zooming down the slope, steering past the trees that lay in her path as easily as a Skree can out fly a Meepit. Soon, she saw that it was a green Wocky, not much older than her brother, who was riding on the small versatile sled. He safely skidded to a halt at the base of the hill, and as he lifted his goggles, Nadia could clearly see the sparkle that shone in his eyes. It was that sparkle that Nadia yearned for - the sparkle of triumph, of defying what law said couldn't be done and proving to all that it could. Immediately, Nadia wanted to brave the steep slope. To her it was an opening - an opening through what door however, she did not know.

     "Frederick, I wanna go on that slope right there!" She jabbed her paw out the window, beckoning for her brother to come and see

     "That one?" Frederick said in surprise, his eyes growing wide as he stared out the glass. "Doesn't it seem a bit high and steep for you?"

     "Of course!" Nadia squealed, taking another slurp of her delicious slushie. "That's the point of it all! It looks fun, don't you think?"

     Frederick frowned, a bit worried. "I don't know Nadia," he spoke, shaking his head as he stared up into the slope and at the brave Neopets that were still sliding down it despite the treacherous weather. He quaked in his scarves and jacket, just thinking about it. Gee, I feel like a grackle bug compared to that thing. .

     "Even if you wanted to g-go up there," he stuttered, panicking as he tried to think of an excuse, "I don't think Mother w-would let you. You know how she is."

     "Oh, but mother isn't here!" Nadia whined, not noticing Frederick's stammer as she stomped her feet on the ground. "She won't ever know! Since when have you become a stickler for the rules?"

     Now, at this statement, Frederick felt insulted. He wasn't really a fan of being called a sissy, especially by his little sister. Still a bit miffed, he said in a harsher tone, "Well it's snowing as hard as stones outside. If you wanna break your bones then I suggest you wait until it dies down."

     "Then I guess now is a good time right?" Without waiting for a reply, Nadia hopped off away from the windowsill, tossing her half-full slushie in the trash as she pounced out the door before Frederick could stop her. Speechless, he watched her run off towards the steep hill with her sled through the window, realizing that the snow had indeed amazingly tapered off into a slow but steady snowfall. The snowflakes floated down from the sky in the still air like a pink lily's petals do during spring's awakening wind gusts.

     Frederick groaned, quickly slurping up the last of his lime slushie before he went to pursue Nadia. He found her at the bottom of the steep slope, grinning uncontrollably as if snickering at him as he shuffled up to her in the cold.

     "Oh come on, Frederick," Nadia said, giving out a high-pitched chuckle upon seeing the Bruce's gruff face. "It's just another ride in the park, only vertigo-style!"

     Nadia's courageousness surprised Frederick, but all the same made him wonder. He had never seen Nadia so straight forward and outgoing, or even enthusiastic for anything as a matter of fact. At home she was best known for her shyness and self-confinement, always isolating herself from everyone and everything. She didn't have any friends, just her brother, and a silly little Quigiki doll that she got from her first encounter with the Money Tree. But even then, she would always lock herself up in her room and constantly read, doing nothing else. This sudden up rise of confidence from Nadia confused Frederick just as much as the weekly Lenny Conundrums did.

     Frederick eyed her wearily. "If you end up in the Neopian Hospital with nasty cuts and bruises, don't blame me," he replied half-heartedly, heaving a long sigh.

     "Frederick," Nadia whined, frowning now with her eyebrows slightly furrowed, "you're coming with me too!"

     The Bruce took a step back instantly, a disgusted look on his face. "Ah, haha," Frederick spoke sarcastically. "I'd rather be caught dead dancing with Princess Fernypoo in a fish negg costume with a matching tiara than be caught dead at the bottom of a hill!"

     "Don't be so paranoid," Nadia said, throwing a snowball leisurely at her brother. It landed square on his face, covering his glasses with a thick white so that he could not see.

     Frederick moaned, taking off his spectacles to wipe away the snow, and even though his vision was terrible without his glasses, he could clearly see the cheesy grin that was plastered on Nadia's face.

     "Come on Frederick," Nadia pleaded once more. "It will be like nothing we've experienced before! I'm only asking for you to go down the slope with me once! I'd feel far much better if you did."

     "And I'd feel a whole lot better if you didn't go at all!" Frederick said firmly. He was beginning to get annoyed with his sister's pointless begging.

     Nadia pouted and crossed her arms as she glared. "Fine!" she retaliated. "If you don't want to go with me, fine! I'll just tell Mother that you left me alone. Afterall, she did say to stick together!" With that, she stomped up the hill, tugging her red toboggan behind her with such force that at one point it flipped over from a huge tug.

     Frederick rolled his eyes, irritated by his sister's blackmail. But he knew she was right - their Mother had told them to stick together, and had Nadia gotten injured, he would be to blame.

     Maybe I am a stickler for the rules, he thought to himself as he escalated up the hill bitterly.


     "Ready?" Nadia sat down in her toboggan head first, digging her paws into the snow so that she wouldn't slide off.

     "Ready when you are, Nadia." Frederick said dimly without much eagerness. A cold sweat broke down his neck as he hesitated to mount his sled. He wasn't very pleased with himself. The thought of admitting to Nadia that he was scared out of his wits was more humiliating than going down a steep and icy slope with nothing but your feet to stop you and getting crushed by the trees. They had gone almost to the highest point of the hill, only a few dozen feet away from the opening to the Ice Caves. The snow was fresh, meaning no others had gone up this far - not even the expert skiers who were much more experienced than themselves.

          "Alright," Nadia said with utmost delight, eager to set off. She scrutinized the objects down below, at the colorful dots that scattered the white snow and moved around like tiny ants. She hear the soft murmur of the crowd below, going on with what they were doing, not giving the slightest attention to the two young Neopets sitting squat up high on the steepest slope. For some strange reason, deep in her heart she wanted them all to gaze up at her, to watch her perform this near impossible task and defeat it. She felt like she had something to prove, that for all these years, this was the moment she had been waiting for. 'Twas an outlandish feeling, indeed.

     "When I say go, we speed down this hill!" Nadia cried out to her brother. "Whoever gets to those two fat trees down at the bottom there first wins!"

     Frederick frowned, his face beginning to grow pale. Gulping, he said, "Are you sure you really want to do this, Nadia?"

     Nadia nodded her head vigorously, her Usul ears flapping lazily under her wool cap. "I'm never been more sure about this in my life, Frederick. So, are you ready?"

     Frederick nodded slowly, the sweat now pouring down his forehead like a fresh spring rain. And before he knew it, he heard the sounding call.

     "GO!" Nadia shrieked, releasing her feet from the snow and giving herself a head start. Her shout bounced off the hills and slopes and off the dark cliffs and the shops. The two raced down the hill, whizzing past the trees and gray boulders.

     Frederick, completely mortified, closed his eyes, which could be the stupidest thing to do while racing down a steep hill with rocks and evergreens in your way. He held on tight to his toboggan, hoping with all his might that he wouldn't be thrown off.

     Nadia however, felt quite different from her brother. Exhilaration filled her lungs as she flew down the slope. Indeed, the wind attempt claw at her fur and bite at her ears, but it seemed that she was going too fast for them. As she came bolted down the hill, she could see the many Neopians at the very bottom, and to her delight, she found that they were all watching - watching her breeze through the steep slope without a scratch, without breaking a sweat.

     But something was not right. As she skidded down the slope with her wide smile, she felt a rumbling in the ground that often times threw her off course and nearly slammed her into a tree. As she neared, she saw many of the Neopets running away from her as if she were Dr. Sloth himself. The closer she came, the clearer it was that the Neopians were not staring at her and her agile ability, but at something else.

     For a split second, she looked behind her, and immediately regretted it. There, merely a hundred feet behind her, was a large cloud of whiteness, engulfing all in its path. It stretched almost halfway into the sky, reaching the dull clouds that hung in the air. Trees and boulders disappeared within a second after being encased in the large white and gray cloud of snow that rose above and nearly blocked out the light from the sun. Its thunder was like a stampede of a thousand Unis, roaring down the slope like wildfire. Like a ghoul, it swallowed up the thriving life and squeezed out all that was good. All that was left - nothing would be left.

     However, it was not the sight of the tremendous and horrifying avalanche that frightened Nadia, but rather the fact that her brother was far behind her, closing his eyes like a fool and not realizing the horrific beast that raged behind him that was gaining on him fast.

     "FREDERICK!" she screamed, crying out to Frederick with all her might. The green Bruce made no signal to show that he had heard her.

     "FREDERICK!" she cried out once more in distress, watching her brother hopelessly. The avalanche was approaching him, getting faster and faster as Frederick and his toboggan grew slower and slower with each foot. Finally, Frederick opened his eyes, staring fearfully through his spectacles at the distraught Nadia.

     "Look out behind you!" Nadia cried, anxious to help her brother. She watched as Frederick slowly looked back behind him, staring at the massive snow cloud right in the face.

     "Faster, Frederick! Faster!" Nadia shouted with all her might, but now the fierce rumble of the avalanche over powered her upsetting cries. Frederick snapped his head around, his eyes pouring with alarm and terror, fear and hopelessness.

     Tears were surging out of Nadia's eyes now, instantly freezing in the cold and burning her face. The frozen tears immobilized the instant they came out, soon blurring her vision so that all she could see was a thick white. She quickly swiped her right paw across her eyes to clear her eyesight, her other paw clenching onto the toboggan, frozen to the handle.

     Her eyesight cleared with just one swipe. Nadia focused now behind her, only to see what she had most dreaded and feared.

     Tears welled up in Frederick's soft eyes as well as they both skidded for what seemed an eternity down the sharp slope. Nadia had never seen her brother cry like that - the way his eyes looked. How they looked upon her with longing and sorrow. How they looked behind those tears of hopelessness and loss. How they spoke of vanquish and defeat though there was not an utter of sound.

     With one swift movement, Frederick was taken by the snowy beast. He disappeared, gazing last at Nadia with his tired eyes.

     Nadia wailed, her face now frozen from the wet stream of tears that flowed down face. With every tear she wept, her face grew colder and stiff, and with every cry she screeched was the crack of ice. She no longer cared for the howling cloud of snow and ice that sped after her. All she that she had cared about was gone.

     As she sped down the hill, weeping in her paws, her toboggan collided into boulder. She was flung into the air, landing flat on her back in the snow, her limbs sprawled and aching of hurt, while her ears pounded from the thunderous roll of the approaching avalanche. Her head seared of pain, and she felt the sting spread throughout her entire body.

     As she opened her blurry eyes, she saw the dull gray sky looming overhead. But it was not the same sky she had seen before with her brother on the blimp, where the sun's beams fought through the thickness of the haze or where the sun tinged of faint gold.

     It was white.

To be continued...

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