Home for Christmas
Neofaerie placed his paw down on the snowy floor carefully,
as lightly as he possibly could, looking up at the icy ceiling with bated breath.
Above him, brittle but deadly stalactites quivered threateningly, their sharp
points seeming to aim directly at him. Ice daggers, he remembered his owner, NSQ,
calling them. Even if you managed to avoid the dangerous tip, just to touch the
side of the cone would probably freeze part of your body.
The Kougra continued to make his way through
the wide passage, paw by paw. His green fur bristled as the stalactites wobbled.
Something caught the corner of his eye, and he looked to the side, but all he
could see was a tiny furry tail disappearing behind a snow-covered rock. Just
a small cave critter. At his heels, a Pirate Doglefox growled.
"Stay focused, Savvy," Neofaerie hushed the Doglefox
in a whisper, without turning his head. "Anything could set these stalactites
off." Savvy was silent for a minute. Then, without warning, Neofaerie heard
him barking loudly. Savvy gave up sneaking around and tore off down the icy
hall in the direction they'd come from, hot on the heels of a small ball of
fur, scurrying away for its life.
Neofaerie's eyes immediately stared up at the
stalactites in fear. They shook from side to side, like some sort of horrible
dance of doom. One broke off from it's hard bed and before the Kougra knew it,
the shard had embedded it's point in the ground right beside his feet. Neofaerie
glanced briefly at the other side of the passageway. He was so close…! But he
couldn't leave without his petpet!
Without any second thoughts, Neofaerie spun around
as well and shot down the corridor after Savvy. Unfortunately, Neofaerie was
much heavier than the miniature pirate, and soon the ice daggers had launched
themselves into a bona fide assault. But the Kougra was also faster, and dodging
the raining stalactites, he quickly overtook Savvy.
In one motion Savvy was clutched in Neofaerie's
jaws, and they were racing back towards the other side. It would, of course,
have been much safer to just have stayed at the entrance where they'd come from,
but Neofaerie hated giving up when he still had a chance. And without NSQ or
his little sister, Happiness the rainbow Cybunny, to look after, he was willing
to take many more risks.
He launched himself through the exit just as
the last stalactites fell to the ground and buried themselves under layers of
snow. Neofaerie skidded along the ground for a few feet before he came to a
Neofaerie stood up and checked Savvy over for
wounds. The Doglefox was fine, barking, as energetic as ever. Neofaerie's back
throbbed slightly from where he'd slid, but other than that, he was unharmed.
He gazed back into the passage. Stalactites littered it, points down, like arrows
with thick ends. Or ice daggers.
Neofaerie shuddered, and checking a belt on his
leg to make sure that his own Lost Desert Dagger was still hooked on it, along
with a few vials of medicine and a bottle of water, he turned back to the new
tunnel he'd reached. "Hope this isn't a dead end," he muttered, as he trotted
down it, Savvy still following obediently. "If we want to be home for Christmas,
we hafta be out of here soon."
"Oh, don't worry boy!" Neofaerie consoled him
with a smile. "It's the afternoon of Christmas Eve, right? I figure we'll be
back home by tonight, no worries!"
Filled with thoughts of their welcoming home,
Neofaerie and Savvy continued through the icy maze.
Neofaerie looked around hopelessly. A minute
ago he had been certain that he was irrefutably, positively, definitely, undeniably
lost. Neofaerie was a sensible pet, and it was only after he had retraced his
steps, following his footprints, and carefully explored the area around him
before he'd declared himself lost. Normally in a situation like this he'd be
able to follow his track of footprints out, since there was snow inside the
ice caves, but his chosen path had been snowed in, forcing him to find another
way out. Unfortunately, he couldn't seem to find one. So he'd continued following
a different path, certain that it had to lead somewhere. It had indeed led to
an entrance, inside a small chamber, and Neofaerie could see the half-moon shining
outside. Only one problem; a sheet of ice covered the exit, blocking it. Neofaerie
had tried to smash through it, but to no avail. What was worse was that as soon
as Neofaerie had given up grudgingly and turned around to leave, a minuscule
avalanche had obstructed the entrance to the chamber!
"This is not my day," grumbled Neofaerie, sitting
back on his haunches. He was not too worried about his life. He knew that come
morning, Taelia would come by this way as she always did and check all the entrances
and exits to the ice caves. And he knew he'd survive the night. The only thing
he was worried about was: making it home in time to celebrate Christmas with
"We always open the gifts together on Christmas
morning," said Neofaerie helplessly, "it's tradition. And I know what's gonna
happen this year… Happiness will wake up early, and bound into NSQ's room. Then
NSQ will wake up, and together they'll run into the living room. But Neoangel
isn't there! NSQ will panic. She'll say, 'where has that Christmas Zafara
of ours gone this time? It's Christmas! She should be here to celebrate with
us! Christmas is a time for family.' But Happiness will say that she knows
Neoangel will be there in time. And then they'll go outside, and there'll be
Neoangel, perfecting an ice sculpture, or putting decorations on her favourite
"Then they'll all go inside, and sit around the
Christmas tree. Happiness will open her gifts first, then NSQ, and then Neoangel.
Then they'll all hug and laugh, and drink hot chocolate. After that the family
will go out to help out at the Soup Kitchen, or wherever else they can volunteer.
They'll wish a Merry Christmas to everyone they see. After that they'll eat
lunch in the Deep Catacombs, and tell Christmas stories and sing Christmas songs
to the little pets. After lunch they'll all be free to do whatever they want,
as a family. Maybe they'll go sledding, or caroling, or have snow wars, or whatever…
but whatever they do, they'll make sure they stop to help anyone who needs help,
to lift anyone's spirits if they need it… that's the way Christmas goes in the
Savvy barked inquiringly.
"That's a good question, Savvy, where are we?"
Neofaerie sighed. "I expect we'll be stuck in here. Merry Christmas to us."
The Doglefox whined his sympathy. Then he shivered
a little, crawling up closer to his master.
"Oh sorry, are you cold?" asked Neofaerie. With
his teeth, he pulled off the bright orange poncho he was wearing and draped
it over Savvy. The horribly knitted wool poncho had frayed ends and many empty
spots in it, but it was still warm.
"NSQ, what are you going to do with that wool?" asked Neofaerie.
The girl sat down in her favourite Furry Arm
Chair and waved the woolen yarn around brightly. "I'm knitting a poncho!" she
said happily. She pulled a few knitting tools out of a small, recently bought
basket beside the chair.
"You can't knit. And why do you need a poncho?"
"It's not for me, it's for you," replied NSQ,
as she tried to poke a bit of yarn through one of the knitting needles. "You'll
need it in the ice caves!"
"I've been there before, my fur keeps me warm,"
said Neofaerie as he sat in front of her chair. He watched her try to knit for
a few seconds before asking, "Why is it orange?"
"So if you get lost and buried in the snow, it'll
be easier for Savvy or someone else to find you!" NSQ said, sounding cheerful.
She continued working a bit before she said, eyes still glued to her knitting,
"You know, this is the first time I've ever knitted."
"I can't knit," grumbled NSQ, accidentally poking
her sweater with one of the needles. It got stuck, and the girl tried in vain
to pull it out.
"I know. If you really want me to wear a poncho
when I go, you can just go buy one."
"Oh, but I want to make one for you!" exclaimed
NSQ, looking surprised that Neofaerie had even suggested that alternative. She
yanked the needle out of her sweater. "If I made a sweater for you it would
be filled with so much more love and caring then some store-bought one, and
I know that would help keep you warm too."
Neofaerie gently tucked the poncho around Savvy's
legs as the Doglefox fell into a peaceful sleep. The green-furred pet curled
up. 'Why did I come here today?' he asked himself miserably.
"Neofaerie, I really don't want you to go exploring the Ice Caves on Christmas
Eve," complained NSQ, a scowl on her usually cheerful face. "Especially alone."
"I'm not alone, I've got Savvy!" Neofaerie reminded
her. "Don't worry NSQ, I'll be fine. The Ice Caves are nothing!"
"I know you can handle them, Neofaerie, but what
if you get delayed? What if you get snowed in? You could be late coming back…
I'd hate for you to miss Christmas… can't you go another day?"
The Kougra gave her a gentle smile. "I'll be
fine. I'd never miss Christmas with you guys. And I promised Savvy that I'd
take him to the Ice Caves on Christmas Eve. I couldn't break a promise."
"Oh… fine…" NSQ sighed, reluctantly giving in.
"If you can't break a promise, promise me that you'll get back by Christmas
Neofaerie grinned. "For sure! Before that, even.
Neofaerie rolled onto his back and gazed up at
the ice-covered ceiling. NSQ was right. He shouldn't have come.
The Kougra just couldn't sleep. He stood up and
paced in circles around the chamber. For a minute, he paused and squinted through
the wall of ice that blocked his exit. It was hard to see, but he could tell
it was snowing out there. It was always snowing on Terror Mountain.
Neofaerie wondered if it was snowing in Neopia
Central. If it was, his younger sister Happiness would be thrilled. She'd been
hoping for snow all December.
The Rainbow Cybunny hopped up to Neoangel. Neoangel was sitting on the Nova
Rug, her legs crossed and her wings folded in. "Neoangel," commanded Happiness,
"make it snow."
The Zafara stopped in the middle of fixing an
amulet. Normally she'd be in her room or someplace else by herself when she
was tinkering with magical items, studying or practicing, but it was close to
Christmas and she wanted to be with the family. "Sorry Happiness, you know I
don't have that sort of power."
Happiness then turned to Neofaerie. "Come on
Neofaerie, we're going to visit Taelia! She must make it snow!"
The Kougra, basking on the floor in front of
the fire, turned to face her lazily. "Taelia won't make it snow on request unless
she really favours you. And she doesn't really favour you unless you do a lot
of her quests. But you need a lot of money to do her quests."
Happiness pouted and sat down on her haunches
beside Neofaerie. "I reeeeeally want snow."
"All you can do is wish for it."
"HAH!" said NSQ suddenly, causing Neofaerie to
jump. The girl rushed in with a plate of burnt gingerbread cookies. "Yes, you
hafta wish. But you're not doing it right, Happiness!"
Happiness gasped. "Oh, pleeeeease show me how
to wish properly!"
The owner set down her plate of cookies and pulled
Happiness onto her lap. "You must make a wish to the great… Santa Paws!"
Happiness clapped her front paws together happily.
"Oh yeah! Tell me the story again, NSQ!"
"Well… they say that there is a Neopets living
on the top of Terror Mountain, in some cave that no one has ever ventured!"
"Not even Neofaerie?"
"Nope! No one! And he lives there with all his
Christmas Gelerts, and his friends and family!"
"What sort of neopet is he?"
"No one's really sure. Everyone has different
ideas! I, personally, think he is a Shoyru."
"No, I bet he's an Aisha!"
Neoangel's voice came from the spot where she
sat, accompanied by the tinkering of the amulet's chain. "In Faerieland they
believe he is a Scorchio."
NSQ and Happiness both stopped to stare at Neoangel.
"Well, that's that," concluded Happiness. "Neoangel's
"My guess was closer!" chirped NSQ.
Neofaerie spat out one of the gingerbread cookies
that he's thieved. Wiping his mouth on the back of his paw, he said, "Hey Happiness,
I'm going up to the Ice Caves in a couple of days. I'll keep an eye out for
Santa Paws, okay?" He smiled.
A wide grin spread on Happiness's face. "Thanks,
Neofaerie let out a deep sigh, his breath ruffling
Savvy's fur. The Doglefox shifted in his sleep. The Kougra rubbed his eyes,
finally feeling tired. He lay back down. His heart felt sunken, dejected, at
the thought of missing Christmas with his family. Ever since NSQ had found him
on Mystery Island when he was only 2 years old, they'd always spent Christmas
together. And then Happiness came, then they found Neoangel… "Oh no!" he muttered
suddenly. "I didn't get a present for Neoangel yet!" That's right. He'd planned
to buy one after he'd finished adventuring the Ice Caves. It was hard finding
a gift for a sister like Neoangel. He'd asked her what she wanted, as they all
decorated the tree together…
Managing to find the perfect spot for the red and gold ornament, Neofaerie
hung it up on the tree. "Say, Neoangel," he asked the Zafara beside him. "What
do you want for Christmas?"
Neoangel hung up her ornament before answering,
"Anything you think I'd like, Neofaerie. I trust your judgment."
"Well, that's the thing! I've no idea what you'd
Neoangel picked up a candy cane and hung it one
of the tree's branches. "What, after the 2 years we have been siblings, you
still don't know what to get me for Christmas?"
"Well, no- I mean y-yes, n-yes," Neofaerie spluttered.
Neoangel chuckled. "Anything that comes from
the heart, Neofaerie. The spirit of Christmas comes from the heart. Anything
worth loving and treasuring comes from the heart."
Needing a better answer than that, Neofaerie
asked, "Do you want another magic book?"
"I could always use another book to study."
"Which ones don't you have?"
Neofaerie sat down, finished with the tree. Gazing
up to admire it, he said, "I hope you don't mind if I give you a leaf for Christmas."
Neoangel made sure all the ornaments were up
before she finally took the glittering, shining star, flew up and placed it
on the top of the tree. "Leaves are very pretty," she commented. "And I could
use one in this cold weather, when they are so scarce."
Neofaerie rubbed his forehead. 2 years, and she
was still a mystery.
The Kougra felt his eyes slowly shutting. "Anything
worth treasuring and loving comes from the heart," he murmured softly. He laid
a paw on the poncho and it was warm.
Neofaerie felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Wake up," the voice said softly.
"5 more minutes," he muttered.
"I suppose such wishes should be granted on Christmas
day. Very well. 5 more minutes." There was a hint of humour in the voice.
"GAK!?" Neofaerie leaped to his feet at once.
Savvy awoke as well, and immediately began racing in circles and barking. His
"What time is it?" asked Neofaerie. The icy wall
was melted, and so he ran out. The snow was soft.
"It's 7:00 in the morning. I just managed to
melt the wall." Taelia, their rescuer, smiled at them warmly.
"Thankyoubye!" shouted Neofaerie, already careering
across the snow, down the mountain. Savvy, clutching the fur on Neofaerie's
back, hang on for dear life.
Taelia took flight and flew alongside Neofaerie
easily, he black hair whipping her face. "Where are you off too in such a hurry?"
"I've gotta be home for Christmas morning!" said
Neofaerie, his paws a blur.
"You live in Neopia Central? You'll never make
it home in time."
"MerryChristmasbye!" yelled Neofaerie, cutting
through the deep snow like a sword.
Taelia paused in mid-air. She stared at him for
a second before cupping her hands around her mouth and calling as loudly as
she could, "Merry Christmas!"
As Neofaerie hurtled through Happy Valley, nearly
knocking over 5 Chias and 2 Bruces, he was halted by a Christmas Aisha. "Hey,"
she said brightly, "come get your Advent Calendar prize!"
"Not n-now," panted Neofaerie, "I'm busy!"
The Aisha stuck a fuzzy Christmas on Savvy's
head. "Merry Christmas!" she shouted.
"Yeah, same!" And then Neofaerie took off again.
He came to the Terror Mountain dock. A couple
of pets were sitting around, looking bummed out.
"What's going on?" Neofaerie breathlessly asked
an old red Chia.
"The water's frozen over," sighed the Chia, pointing
to the ocean, which was now ice. "The boat won't come."
Neofaerie held back a scream of frustration.
How the Deviled Negg was he supposed to get home!?
A slightly oversized purple Eyrie suddenly crashed
onto the dock, screaming in a high-pitched voice, and proceeded to tear the
dock apart. Most of the pets ran away in horror. Neofaerie jumped onto the ice.
"Woah, watch out!" he yelled. That's when he
noticed a deep gash on the Eyrie's ankle. Savvy whimpered.
"Ahhh…" Neofaerie crept his way over to the Eyrie
carefully. Having successfully ruined the dock, it lay in a huddle, shivering
and moaning. The Kougra unhooked a bottle of ointment from the belt on his leg.
He expertly rubbed it over the creature's wound, and then wrapped his poncho
around it. "Merry Christmas," he said softly.
The Eyrie stopped sobbing. He raised his head
just an inch, and stared at the wound with tear-rimmed eyes. Then he said gratefully,
"Thank you so much for your kindness." He stood up and tested his weight on
the leg. "It works so quickly… what is that medicine?"
"This? Oh, you can buy this in any old medicine
or potion shop. It's nothing. But my owner made that poncho for me. Anything
worth loving and treasuring comes from the heart." He looked back over the frozen
ocean. "I wish I could get back to Neopia Central to celebrate Christmas with
her and my sisters…"
The Eyrie's eyes twinkled. "Is that all? I can
most certainly help you with that! Here, hop aboard my back. Neopia Central,
NSQ pulled back the curtains. "He's not heeeeere,"
she groaned, slumping back into the wooden chair. It was pulled up close against
the window beside the front door.
Happiness toyed with the ribbon on one of her
"8:00," said Neoangel.
NSQ twisted the curtain in her hands. "I should've
never let him go to the Ice Caves alone. On Christmas Eve! Oh, what if he…?
Neoangel went over to her and placed her paws
on her owner's shoulders consolingly. "I'm sure he is fine."
"He'll make it back soon!" chirped Happiness.
"I just wish he'd hurry up!"
Neoangel smiled. "That Neofaerie… don't worry,
NSQ. Nothing could stop him from being with us on Christmas."
"Hey, hey!" said Happiness. She pointed out one
of the other windows. "Look, he's here!"
Neofaerie rapped on the front door loudly.
NSQ flung open the door and grabbed Neofaerie
in a Bearog hug at once. "You are so late!" she shouted happily.
Neofaerie ran in, shaking snow off his shoulders.
Savvy jumped down and chased his tail.
"It's snowing," announced Happiness gleefully.
"It is. Oh man, you'll never believe the time
I had trying to get back to you guys! First my path was snowed off, right, and
then I came to this chamber and there was this avalanche, and I was like woah!
"Neofaerie!" gaped Happiness, her eyes fixed
unblinkingly on Savvy. "Is that Santa Paws!?"
Neofaerie glanced down at Savvy, who was still
wearing his hat. "Yes. It is. I brought him here just to see you!"
"Wow!" Happiness gazed at him in wonder. "You're
the best big brother ever, Neofaerie!"
They all opened their gifts, in the same order
as always. Neoangel went last. As she was opening her gifts, Neofaerie rummaged
through his belt and looked around the room, trying to find anything that he
could give her. Finally, after she'd opened NSQ's gift, he produced some purple
Eyrie feathers that had been clinging to his fur.
"Umm… i-it's not much, I know… Sorry Neoangel,
Neoangel hushed him and took the purple feathers
in one hand. She smiled. She pulled the amulet she'd been fixing out of her
pocket, and everyone saw that it was done. Then she seamlessly attached the
purple feathers to a small ring on the bottom.
"Excellent gift," she said. "Very useful. Very
beautiful, as well. Thank you, Neofaerie."
The Kougra grinned. "No problem."
"Say," said NSQ suddenly, drinking hot chocolate
out of her new mug from a friend, "where's that poncho I made, Faer?"
"Oh, sorry. I had to give it to a friend. He
really needed it. I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all!" NSQ beamed. "I'm glad it was of
some use. So what do you all want to do now?"
"Let's go ice skating!" chirped Happiness.
"Yeah, the ocean between Neopia Central and Terror
Mountain froze over."
NSQ stared at him. "How'd you get home, then?"
As if he never stopped telling his story, Neofaerie
plunged into it again: "-the entrance was iced over! So I had to stick around
until morning, right, 'cause I was stuck. And then I was real mad, but Savvy
went to sleep. And he was snoring, y'know, and he snores really loud-"
"Where is Savvy, anyhow?" asked Happiness. NSQ
pointed at the Doglefox. "No," argued Happiness, that's Santa Paws.