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Midwinter War: Part Two


by shadowcristal

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Charmond blinked. The light that had hit his eyes weren't the same as before. He yawned twice and stood up. The Scorchio looked at the frost-covered plain with raised eyebrows. He was pretty sure that he hadn't been here before. What had happened?

The Scorchio shrugged the scary thoughts off as he started walking, trying to remember. Suddenly he felt something hard under one foot and fell flat on his face.

"Of all the things that had to happen, I have to fall and hit my head," the Scorchio mumbled as he got up and examined the object that had given him a bump on his forehead. It was a green pearl, probably made out of glass and filled to half with water. Inside the emerald-colored glass, the clear lime liquid was moving with an undulating motion, almost as if it was gesturing him to go in a certain direction.

He took a step in that direction, and felt a surge of power running through him. This little item would come in handy! The Scorchio grinned as he started to walk again. He didn't feel all that sore anymore.

There! Whirls of smoke rose to the sky at the horizon. It had to be life there! Charmond started to walk faster, in hope to reach the end of this seemingly endless plain. As he sped up, the Scorchio suddenly remembered how he got there. That green globe... Running away from home. A twinge of guilt hit him.

Was it a good idea to run from home? Had it been well thought-out? Charmond knew the answer. He was the one at fault. He was lazy, incompetent and stubborn. As the Scorchio kept on marching, he listed all of his bad points. Charmond discovered that there were many more than what had popped up in his mind at first, but if he just kept doing this he wouldn't have to worry about what was over there.

Soon the Scorchio was done with making the longest list about his faults. Charmond's mind wandered off as his pace grew to be filled with worry and hope for civilization.

Huffing and puffing, he finally got close enough to see what was causing the smoke. Charmond was stunned at what he saw. Thousands of small purple faeries, all fleeing from a village that had been swallowed by fire... The Scorchio shuddered as he kept on walking. After all, he was a Fire Scorchio and immune to the heat of those intense flames.

But curiosity was nagging at Charmond to find out what was going on. He took a deep breath and straightened himself, the grabbed a faerie.

"What's happening?" the Scorchio asked.

"Let me go!" the faerie shouted at him. "Can't you see? Our whole village in on fire! Those cursed pets came here around midnight and set fire on everything!"

"Oh." Charmond released the squirmy faerie as he walked closer to examine the fire. He pondered on a few questions... Why would some pets set fire on a faerie village? Why were the faeries so afraid and running away instead of... Of course! Dark Faeries didn't have the power of water!

As the last ashes fell to the ground and the smoke disintegrated, there was one person standing in there. The Scorchio got closer, but felt the pearl telling him not to. It was as if the storming waves inside were screaming, "This'll be bad!"

With an elegant movement, the creature that Charmond had been watching turned around and faced him. It was a Dark Faerie, but not like the others. Her raven black hair had two light blue streaks in it and her wings were in the same color. She was also holding a staff with an orb of compete darkness attached on the top. Her cherry-red lips revealed a cruel grin.

"So you've arrived," the faerie whispered and disappeared in a poof of gray smoke.

The whole thing had lasted only a few seconds, but it gave Charmond quite a chill. The scene was there, etched in his mind.

"This must be what they call 'dangerous beauty'," the Scorchio whispered, stunned at the sight.

He couldn't remember how long he stood there after the faerie had disappeared. It seemed like an eternity. The vision of the faerie had been like that of a faint butterfly, only to fly away when you've almost touched its wings...

Finally Charmond decided to leave. After all, he wanted to find people and no one was here. In front of him, he saw a forest of deep green trees, all old and way taller than him. The Scorchio looked back. The plain or the forest? But he had to walk on, to find someone at least.

The forest was a refreshing change from the desolate village and the endless plain. It kind of reminded him of how he had gotten here. What was this place? Charmond regretted that he hadn't thought of asking that faerie he grabbed. Oh well...

The Scorchio saw a big castle in the distance. He also saw a nice, cozy village below and his heart skipped a beat. Feeling quite hopeful, Charmond started to run as the forest was too thick to fly through. He made a lot of noises while running, such as breaking twigs and branches until he realized something and stopped.

It was too quiet. Except for the puffing that the Scorchio was doing, there were no other sounds in the forest. Charmond took a step forward, his intuition telling him that something was wrong, and it was right...

Splash! The Scorchio had fallen into a pool of mud. It would seem that the ice had been very thin just at that specific spot he had stepped on. Sputtering and furious, Charmond quickly got out of the pool and continued to run.

He was close... closer... there! He could see the lanterns hanging from the entrance of the village. With his heart full of hope, Charmond forced himself to slow down, despite the excitement that was rushing inside of him. The gentle breeze that had pushed the Scorchio to this place died out, and he was left to explore on his own.

The Scorchio walked down the broad street, expecting many pets to hurry by like they did in Neopia City. But none did so. After a few minutes of sauntering, Charmond came to a halt and decided to find out what was going on here. The houses all looked normal, like tiny cottages in Meridell and Brightvale. Even though he could see shadows inside the houses, there was no one on the street.

"Hmm... I wonder why?" Charmond thought as he snuck closer to a house. "I know! I'll peek and see what they do inside!" The Scorchio grinned as he got up and put his face close to the window.

Faint, joyous tones reached the Scorchio's ears as the windows vibrated slightly. His eyes widened at the sight. Inside sat four pets, all happily feasting on ham, sausages, meatballs, bread, taco and more. He could distinguish a big plastic fir with gingerbread cookies on it. Wrapped packages in bright colors lied under the tree. The delicious food was calling out to him...

Feeling sorry for himself, the Scorchio turned around and tried another house. It was the same, house after house. They were all locked, with the inhabitants happily eating inside. And of course, just like home, he was the outsider. Charmond almost drowned in the overwhelming sorrow that washed over him. Of course, there was no place for him at those dinner tables.

His stomach growled as a small tear rolled down Charmond's cheek. He wondered what they were doing at home right now. Then it hit him. It was Christmas! The Scorchio peeked again, and the fact that the pets inside were painted that color confirmed his suspicion.

"Maybe they're missing me?" he thought.

"You've got to be kidding yourself," a voice told him, "they don't need you at home. You were just a big, bad troublemaker and now they're probably relieved that you've left on your own. You were never needed..."

"Stop it!" Charmond told the voice in his head. Then he sniffled as more crystal tears rolled down his face. It was true. Compared to the wonderful duo of owner and pet, Alice and Felix, he was nothing but a burden.

"You wish you were at home... Warm, safe and loved..." another voice whispered, colder than the one with the sarcastic tone. "But now you're here, stranded and left alone..."

"Argh! Shut up!" the Scorchio screeched at the voices as he lifted a hand to wipe away the flowing tears. With a final step, Charmond sat down and thought.

"Yes... I guess they're right. It was foolish to run away from home..." The feeling of regret was added to the boiling pot of emotions inside him. Remembering Felix' comment, Charmond clenched his fist. "Calling me a fool, that Felix..."

"But he was right, wasn't he?" the cold voice asked. "You can fight him again... And you'll be able to win..."

Charmond brushed the sounds away, as if they were just annoying flies. He hadn't really thought about it, running away from home. Now the Scorchio realized that he had been half-dreaming all along, coming here to this place with no people... being outside, looking in.

"It has always been that," he told himself, "and it was all my fault."

"Then again, you never really made an effort trying to fit in," the sarcastic voice commented.

The Scorchio sat there, silent and pondering. Finally he just had to admit it. "I guess... I miss it..."

"That's the first step to recovery. Admitting it." Felix' voice rang in his mind as Charmond burned with frustration again. Even when he was feeling sorry, Felix would make a snide comment...

"But... I'll have to try," he promised himself. "If I met them again, I'd try to be nicer..."

Sitting on the snow-covered stone, he wallowed in self-pity. The Scorchio's stomach growled a few more times. The tears just wouldn't stop easily... Charmond raised his arm for the sixteenth time to dry his tears, but something grabbed it.

Without knowing why, a cold feeling washed over him. The Scorchio felt the surge, the same that had been running through him when he had picked up the green pearl.

"Now, what do we have here?" a Grarrl grinned evilly as Charmond turned around.

-

"I say, I'm innocent!" Charmond shouted at the two Grarrl warriors who were carrying him to the big castle. "I was just watching the village... My intention was peaceful!"

Those two didn't seem to be listening. The Scorchio sighed and looked at the sky. "I wonder if they're under the same sky as I am... Perhaps watching me?"

He shuddered. There was something watching him, all right...

"Clamp it," a guard snarled at Charmond as he put a gag on the Scorchio's mouth.

"Mff!"

"There," the guard grinned, "all done and ready for our Lord."

"Too bad we had to patrol on Christmas," the other one sighed wistfully. Then he added with a sad face, "Look at that poor thing... To be caught on Christmas."

"It's our duty," the first one pointed out. "Or," he said with a menacing expression on his face, "Would you like to be reported as a traitor?"

The other Grarrl looked stunned at this suggestion. He spluttered, "You... You wouldn't dare!"

"We've arrived," the guard said shortly as they reached the castle. The relentless grip on the Scorchio's arms tightened as the two guards told their names and a keyword to the pet in the entrance booth.

"Roger. Open the doors of the great hall." The pet's voice echoed in the whole yard, bouncing back and forth among the stones. He lowered his voice and whispered to the Grarrl, "You do know that our Lord will not be pleased to be disturbed during his Christmas Dinner?"

The Grarrl nodded solemnly as he practically dragged poor Charmond after him. A dark, rich, red carpet was placed at the doorway as the two guards entered. The Scorchio felt that other grip on his arm was looser, and he looked at the guard. The other Grarrl looked really nervous and gulped every five seconds as they entered the Lord's dining room.

The merry atmosphere in the room immediately vanished as all conversations were brought to a quick end. Charmond could only see blurred specks, but the two guards standing in front of him could see everything. He heard someone breathe rapidly and then bellow...

"WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS?" the Lord shouted. "Explain immediately!" the royal Kougra continued as the rest all gasped in unison.

"Lord Faran, I bring you the perfect pet!" the Grarrl said proudly. The Scorchio could hear the other one muttering curses of doubt.

"The perfect pet? For the mission?" the Lord asked.

"Yes, my Lord," the guard replied.

"Very good. You shall be rewarded, Retart." The royal Kougra clapped his hands. "Let's resume where we were interrupted, shall we? Oh, and Retart?"

"Yes, my lord?" the Grarrl asked. Charmond could see that he was quite eager to receive a reward.

"Please take our pet to the dungeons. I'll have to test his faith first, and we cannot allow him to mess up the castle in case he decides..." Lord Faran glared at the the Scorchio, as if challenging him, "to disagree. That would be most unpleasant." The Kougra then sighed and rung a small bell. "But remember, my dear, it's Christmas. Let us have a merry evening and get into our Christmas spirit!"

"I hear and heed, my Lord," Retart said as he dragged Charmond out of the hall.

"That was close," the other Grarrl told Retart.

"I know. Lucky for us, this one's pretty stupid." The big Grarrl threw the Scorchio into a dungeon and locked the door. As they were leaving, Charmond heard one last thing that sparked his curiosity.

"Suppose he'll get a partner?"

"We'll see."

The Scorchio swallowed and gulped a few times. Now he was alone, in the dark, fungus-filled dungeon. It sure had that smell, a mixture of rusty iron and cold stone. Charmond slumped down and started to count those fluffy little petpets. He'd just have to wait...

But he had to try! With the last desperate hope flickering, he shouted.

"Help!"

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Midwinter War: Part One
» Midwinter War: Part Three
» Midwinter War: Part Four
» Midwinter War: Part Five



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