The hot vapor wafted off the glistening dark surface
while the steam of the hot chocolate swirled and misted above it. A large gray
paw grasped the cup by the handle fashioned like an Aisha’s ear, gently bringing
the mug to her furry lips while her eyes stayed fixated to the book before her.
It would have perhaps been wise to take notice of the hot chocolate in her paw,
but Kuriiro was simply to engrossed in this novel to look away.
Her eyes whizzed across the page, interested
in nothing more than the printed word at the moment. It seemed almost as if
the hero was completely trapped! How could he possibly escape? The entrances
were surrounded and he was already quite battered… how could he get out?
“Good book, Kuraiiro?” a voice asked. The mutant
Cybunny tore away from the novel and smiled at the sunshine colored Shoyru next
to her. Brushing an ear out of her eyes, Kuraiiro gave a nod and a smile in
response to the question.
“Yeah, it really is, I can’t put it down! Could
you possibly bring me another hot chocolate? I may be here a while,” she inquired
of the coffee shop owner, who gave her a short nod and broad grin.
“Of course! Another one comin’ up,” the Shoyru
announced, gently padding away to the back of the crowded nook. The coffee shop
buzzed around Kuraiiro with both the fashionable and erudite filling up the
chairs beside her, discussing the many issues of the day. From here she could
perhaps listen in on conversations of the latest styles in the beauty shops,
or the ongoing debate of who would lead the Darigan people now.
But Kuraiiro’s interest in her surroundings soon
faded as her thoughts traveled back to the violet leather-bound volume in her
paws. She would have returned back to her book, until a certain conversation
seemed to break past the other mumbles and hums to her floppy ears.
“Why do they allow them in Neopia? It’s not bad
enough that they’re already ugly, but to buy that horrible stuff, it’s so Sloth-like!”
“I heard that all mutants are Sloth’s agents,
like that horrific looking Cybunny over there. I bet you anything she works
with Sloth. Probably reporting everything she sees to him so he can take over!”
“I feel ashamed to be on the same planet with
something like that!”
The Cybunny froze, staring straight ahead in
pure shock. She quietly turned around towards the owners of the voices, a small
gaggle of pets which sat at a rickety table on the other side of the shop, each
of them glaring in turn at her. Though they were making no attempt to come up
and bother her, Kuraiiro simply did not feel safe around them. Tossing a few
Neopoints on the table, she dashed out of there before the other hot chocolate
She always thought that she was used to it, but
she never ever was. There was always something wrong with her, be it either
her yellow teeth, her big blue nose, the claws jutting out from her paws, or
her rat-like tail. What was it that always caused others to look at her with
such extreme disgust? She never did anything to them, yet she was always thought
to be something apart from their society, the trash which no one wanted to look
at, and everyone longed to ostracize.
Silently she treaded down the beaten path of
the shops, trying to find somewhere to hide from the prying eyes of others.
A few people didn’t pay any heed as she passed them by, but even more wrinkled
their noses in disgust at her. Kuraiiro wondered in her mind what they have
to say to her. What cruel sentiments could they impart on her? What horrible
darkness was she guilty of helping? How did she muck up their beautiful world?
“Tch, a minion of Sloth.”
“Contributing to the decline of our society.”
“Delinquent. Just plain filthy and disgusting!”
The shining claws clattered again the dirt as
the civilization faded into the back. This was how she preferred it, alone and
devoid of the critical eyes of others. But the silence didn’t heal the wounds,
instead giving her time to realize her own hurt and loneliness.
She wished that perhaps she could find someone
to simply understand it all, and though she knew people who were kind and generous,
able to look past her mutated visage to see the true Cybunny she was. But even
in a field of beautiful flowers, a bee’s sting still hurts.
“Hmm, it can’t always be like this, running away.
It’s got to get better one of these days,” Kuraiiro muttered. She flopped down
on the grass and looked around, perhaps just willing herself to find a friendly
face among the emptiness; however the only thing which greeted her was the silence
of the expansive fields. Though beautiful as they were in their simplicity,
it was still deafeningly silent and empty, causing the mutant Cybunny to shiver
Through the emptiness she could hear a steam
gurgling somewhere off in the distance, the lone sound reaching her ears…yet
there was also another sound which she caught faintly, and seemed to slip out
of existence every now and then.
It was an odd noise at that, Kuraiiro simply
didn’t know what to make of it. It peaked and then was swept away by the wind
to the farthest reaches of Neopia. Although she had no idea what to make of
it, Kuraiiro’s curiosity was simply to know what in the world it was.
Hop by casual hop Kuraiiro fled across the plain,
eventually reaching the small forest on the side of Neopia Central. It was only
a few feet from the Haunted Woods, yet for some reason this forest was entirely
untouched by the evils of its sister forest. As Kuraiiro stared into the dark
trees the cry was still heard, still sounding still as alien and mangled as
“Weird,” she muttered, following it still though
the journey proved difficult. Big feet and a chubby body don’t allow for an
easy time through dense underbrush. Yet she was persistent, driven by the remaining
embers of anger and sadness over the last few hours. And so among the leaves,
mud, and the rocks that dug into her feet painfully, she trudged on.
The gurgling grew louder, increasing to a deafening
howl that crashed through the forest. Slowly, Kuraiiro crawled down to the level
of the rapids, keen to the perils of this area. The river itself was very infamous
to the natives of the Neopia Central, for many a pet has been foolish enough
to play among its banks, and many still were mercilessly swept up into its icy
“Hello?” Kuraiiro cried out, her voice barley
climbing over the sound of the water. She tried to discern any noise from among
the sounds of the water, but the cry never came again, gone for perhaps all
eternity. Dejectedly the mutant Cybunny plopped down on a log, her thoughts
turning back to the days events…
“Help! Please... I’m so tired... I can’t swim…”
a voice whispered, amazingly weak and broken. Kuraiiro’s ears flopped up in
attention. The sound was definitely close! She knew it!
“Hello!? I can hear you! Whoever you are, are
you okay?!” Kuraiiro hollered, looking down into the river. Panic began to overtake
her. What if someone had fallen in? What was she to do? She was not a strong
swimmer… she didn’t think she would be able to save them…
“Mommy? Daddy? Is that you? I’m sorry, I can’t
hold on any longer…” the voice sniffled, dangerously weak and in danger of being
swallowed by the din. Kuraiiro rushed along the bank, panicked and looking around
the swilling waters. It was then in the middle of the river she saw it, a small
blue Kacheek clinging helplessly onto a stick, jutting out from the river. Kuraiiro’s
eyes shrank in horror as she ran towards the Kacheek, stopping just short of
the water itself.
“Hello!? You out there? Are you okay? Ju—Just
hang on!” she called out. The Kacheek seemed to barley notice her, engulfed
with complete fatigue, limply hanging on out of simple routine.
It was then that Kuraiiro had to make a choice;
it was either swim out and risk it all, or sit there, and let it happen. She
couldn’t swim; she was a land dweller with horribly big feet! She wished at
that moment that she perhaps cold have been born with fins.
But it was now or never, and Kuraiiro didn’t
believe in putting things off until tomorrow...
Narrowing her eyes the Cybunny dove into the
icy waters. They pushed and pulled, willing her to go one way, to meld with
it, confirm, but she wouldn’t, she refused. She clawed her way through the freezing
water, loosing the feeling in her exhausted legs. She was so tired…she just
wanted to close her eyes and drift off forever…but she couldn’t, he needed her
“Hey! Hey! Grab my hand!” she called, struggling
to hold her position in the river, reaching a desperate claw out to the Kacheek.
He looked over at her balefully, the tears still in his eyes. He reached a paw
out to her, shivering in the cold water. Kuraiiro seized it and begun to swim
towards the river bank with a strength to perhaps even rival that of her much
stronger brother. She never wavered in her strength, never faded, stopping only
when she hoisted the small, shivering Neopet on the ground.
“Are you okay?! Say something!” she cried worriedly,
trying to poke the violently shivering Kacheek into answering. He looked up
at her, as if seeing her for the first time, his eyes growing wide with shock.
“I don’t want to be a mutant. Please don’t take
me to Dr. Sloth,” he said silently, looking at her with complete earnest. Kuraiiro’s
heart broke at this, but she still smiled, relived that he was alive.
“Okay, sounds good,” she smiled. “What’s your
name little boy?”
“Thomas,” Kuraiiro said thoughtfully. “Wonderful
name. How old are you Thomas?” Kuraiiro asked trying to see if he was still
thinking and lucid. Thomas’s shivering subsided a bit as he meekly held up a
paw and extended three fingers.
“Three? Wow, are you going to fight the Snowager
soon?” she cooed, finally earning a smile from the sweet little Kacheek. He
gave a meek smile, but it soon vanished as he looked around.
“Where’s mommy?” he asked
“Umm... err…” Kuraiiro looked around. She hadn’t
thought about that at all, however perhaps Thomas did...
“I don’t know… do you know where they are?”
Thomas thought for a bit and looked around, finally
settling his bearings as he pointed north.
“We’re camping over there. We’re from Mystery
Island. I was wandering around and got here. I didn’t know that the river would
do that…” he said, starting to warm up to Kuraiiro as he chatted about. The
mutant Cybunny hoisted him on her neck as she began to walk towards the direction
where Thomas pointed.
“It’s okay, a lot of people don’t know about
the river. My brother once wandered into the river and got stuck there for a
day. Poor Tahoshi had to stay there for five hours until the police could rescue
him,” Thomas giggled in delight at the story, patting Kuraiiro on her fuzzy
“I like you, you’re funny,” he giggled. Kuraiiro
smiled and gave a sad sigh.
“I think you’re maybe one of the few people who
do, Thomas,” Kuraiiro said, walking along the beaten bath. A Beekadoodle twittered
a sweet melody above, while the wind whistled through the trees. The sky grew
darker and darker with each step they took in silence. It was Thomas who broke
the silence a few minutes later.
“Why don’t people like you? You’re nice and you
save people,” he said innocently, not understanding. A wind blew past the two,
chilling the damp Kuraiiro to the bone, but her heart slowly grew warmer.
“Thomas, you know it — it’s because of what I
look like… because I’m a mutant,” she said the last bit with sadness. Thomas
continued to stare down at her, blinking slowly as he tried to comprehend it.
“My mommy and daddy say that mutants are mean
pets who work for Dr. Sloth. Daddy says that they like to take kids and give
‘em to Dr. Sloth… but I don’t believe him,” he said solemnly, looking at the
sky as a lone Faerie floated by. Kuraiiro’s heart leaped at these words while
she quickly stopped, staring only straight ahead. Never had she heard such a
thing, such a kind and sweet thing before. It struck her heart in perhaps a
place it had never been struck while gratuitous tears leaked out of her eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did I say something mean?” he
asked, noticing the tears in Kuraiiro’s eyes. She wiped a tear out of her eyes
and continued to walk as the sizzling smell of cooking stew reached the noses
of the two.
“No Thomas, you’ve made me happy, so thank you,”
“You’re welcome Miss Cybunny, you’re really nice!
OH!” he cried out as the pair crawled over a log to reveal the hidden clearing.
The clearing was full, filled with camping gear and cooking food which sizzled
perfectly. A large family sat assembled, bickering about mostly likely about
where Thomas must have gotten off to. However at the tiny Kacheek’s squeal they
all stopped, running forwards to hug him in turn.
“THOMAS!” a pink Kacheek yelled, grabbing him
off the ground and hugging him tightly. The father also rushed forward, gently
ruffling his son’s fur.
“Oh, you’re soaking wet! Where have you been
young Neopet?” the mother snapped, her joy quickly turning into anger. The tiny
Kacheek pointed over at Kuraiiro, a smile on his face.
“I got lost and fell in a river, but that nice
Cybunny saved me mommy! Can she stay and play with me?” it was the first time
that the family had taken notice of Kuraiiro and perhaps it would have been
better if they had not. The mother and father held their son close while a few
other relatives gave disturbed gasps. They all looked at Kuraiiro as if expecting
her to attack, but it didn’t matter to her. She gave the blue Kacheek a jaunty
wave (which he eagerly returned) and disappeared through the brush into the
pitch black forest.
The bee has stung, and it was painful, Kuraiiro
had to admit. But it didn’t matter this time, for the flower which she found
was the sweetest of all, and its scent alone was perhaps worth bearing the stingers
of thousands of bees, if only to have known that it existed.
And so, shivering slightly, Kuraiiro continued
on her way home, no longer seeing the bees which glared at her on the streets,
but the beautiful flowers which colored her wonderful world.