Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 191,668,856 Issue: 615 | 4th day of Collecting, Y15
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Shadow Forest

by susieeg


Laze the Lupe trailed through the narrow trampled path way in the middle of thick borders of forest. He turned. "Lyra! Come on!"

     Another Lupe, a female purple one, flicked her head behind him. "Laze, I'm trying my best. We've been here for ages. The exit must be here somewhere?" Her eyes grew wide at the thought of being lost in this forest forever.

     "Don't worry. The shadows won't catch up with us. We did run pretty far." Laze tried to calm her as he could tell the fear was secretly bubbling in her mind.

     "I'm not scared, but Laze, my brother... We could get lost forever! How do you know so much? I personally think you underestimate them." She grew tired of the conversation and sighed.

     "How much further?" She already knew he didn't know. But he was getting on her nerves and she felt no sympathy for him.

      Laze shook his head and turned round. He stopped and stared at Lyra.

     "I don't know..." he said through gritted teeth. The darkness slowly crept in around them.

     "Look, we can't stop. If we do, the darkness will swallow us and we will have no chance against the shadows." He turned away again and started walking. Lyra rolled her eyes and looked around. She could find it. All she had to do was run into the forest and smell for the sweet scent of overturned dirt. There was no way they could do it on this path where it was full up of past travelers and animal scents. It would only take a few seconds... Laze would never allow her to stray away from the safety of the light. Anything could grab her through the overgrowth and the path could easily be lost through the horizon of thick trees.

     "Laze..." She considered telling him. He shot her a lopsided look and sighed.

     "Yes, Lyra?" He walked slower as to not drown out her voice with hard footsteps.

     "I... Uh..." She thought for a moment. This was her chance to prove she wasn't as dumb as her brother took her to be. He wouldn't let her. That was for sure. "Never mind. Just keep going."

     Laze stared at her and narrowed his eyes. "OK..."

      Lyra waited for him to turn around and for the prompt to die off. She crept off into the forest, crossing the border of the path and trading trampled hard ground for damp clingy tall grass full with shrubs. She kept her eye on the light and slowly moved along side with it. She stuck her head up high and sniffed. It was fresh... the new scents filled her with excitement. She took a step further from the path to get a better grasp of it all. She had caught onto a certain scent, one filled with relief. She was just about to investigate when she noticed the light wasn't there. It had moved further forward and she had moved further out. She was be coming more panicky by the second and lost the scent of the exit. With no more choices than to guess which direction Laze had gone off in, she began to regret this idea. It was stupid and she should have told Laze. Suddenly eerie sounds began to play with her mind. Rasping knuckles on a tree, hissing, grass twisting and twirling with energy from the darkness. Laze had gone far. Surely he should had noticed. She was under the influence of the darkness and had no idea where to turn. The situation hit her. She was trapped. She needed to find the path but with her senses flooded with deep dark energy they had became blocked off. Dark shadows bounced off the trees. She began to whimper. "L-Laze? Brother? Where are you?"

      Her gaze was vacant. She had to do something. She followed her gut and went to where the moss was on the trees. North? She forgot. Laze was smart, he had said something like it and said that the exit was probably that way. She had her head down low and tried to ignore the hallucinations that got so strong, she couldn't resist. She looked up, Shadows danced and flickered on the tree stumps and the grass curled around each other. It formed patterns along the floor. Shrubs seemingly grew and shrunk and twisted and twirled. It looked like the gnarled tree branches were leaning in to grab her. She jumped. She sensed something behind her.

     "Hello?" Lyra's voice was laced with fear. As strong as she tried to seem she couldn't pull it off.

     "H-h-h-h-hhhhh....." She could have sworn she heard something say that. Not the wind. Her tail felt heavy, she let it fall to the ground. It didn't. Something tugged at it. She yelped and sprinted in the opposite direction of the tug. Before she could have ran the thing scratched her flank. She pawed it after running a far distance. It was bleeding, she couldn't feel it. Ignoring it, she was determined to find it out alive. She raced ahead, following the moss when that sweet sent hit her. The exit. But... she couldn't leave her brother. He was probably still ambling along the trail, or maybe he isn't on the trail anymore, maybe he saw she was missing and went after her? Maybe the shadows had got to him? She stood there emotionless. Thoughts raced through her head. What could she do? She trotted forward trying to hold back tears. The shadows trailing behind her. Then she saw it, a silhouette of a neopet, a generic Lupe shaped neopet. Surrounded by wicked dark. Not any dark. The dark of evil. Lyra collapsed there and didn't move. She turned white and she had lost her breath. The world around her dissolved and fell, she didn't notice. She was stricken with grief. This had to be him. There was a blaring white. She couldn't see. She felt she was lying belly up, exposed. Lyra didn't care anymore. The Lupe lay motionless.

     "Lyra...? Are you OK?" She opened her eyes to find she was in the Neopian Hospital. The walls were white and she was lying among other distraught neopets.

     "Laze..? LAZE!" She reached up and hugged him. "I thought you were dead? What happened? Did you find the exit?" Laze shot her a skeptical look.

     "Uhhh... What?" He frowned. Had she gone insane? "I think you were dreaming, Lyra."

     "Wait, what? But the forest.. It was real..." She gaped, it was real. She knew it. It had to be...

     "No, Lyra. It wasn't. Come on, tell me about it when we get home. I'll tell Doc you are awake. We were worried, you hit your head..."

     "Oh?" She shook her head. Well, that explained it. She looked down and nodded her consent.

      A few minutes later they were leaving the hospital. It was night. A shadow flickered across the wall. She gasped. It wasn't real. It couldn't be.

     "Lyra? Are you OK?" Laze was worried deeply about Lyra. It had been a tough day.

     "I'm fine. Let's go, I'm hungry." Laze nodded and they went down the path from the hospital.

     "Oh dear, the road is blocked. We'll have to take the forest route. Come on, Lyra." Laze nodded to the edge of the forest. Thick trees on the horizon with a narrow trampled path leading through the middle. Her jaw dropped. Laze tugged her along as the dragged her into into the forest to find their way home. Or at least... a way out.

The End

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