Legends of the Seasons: Part Two
Achilles81 and I lounged in the bleachers, breathing in the cool, thin air
and each keeping one eye on Moeioe as he wandered around. It was Moeioe's 200
day "birthday," so as a treat we were spending the day in Faerieland. Achilles
and I had taken a Uni-drawn carriage up to the floating world and Moeioe had
flown beside us until he got tired about half way up and decided to conserve
his energy for the day ahead. Now he was definitely putting that saved up energy
to use. We had already visited the Wheel of Fortune, winning back only 56 Neopoints
after spending 100 but it didn't dampen Moeioe's excitement, and as he helpfully
pointed out we'd be able to try again later before we went home. Then we'd gone
to the Faerie PetPet Store and Moeioe had gawked at the Barbats and Harrises
in wonder for a few minutes. Now we were at our last stop before we headed into
Faerie City itself--the Poogle
Race Track. This was probably Moeioe's favourite place in all of Faerieland.
The little Moehog was lining himself up beside the gate that separated the
bleachers from the race track so that he was even with the five Poogles who
were now taking their places at the starting line, stretching and tossing idle
challenges at each other. As the referee called out "Ready!" and the Poogles
lined up and tensed themselves for their start, Moeioe did the same, narrowing
his eyes and biting his tongue in utter concentration. "Set, Go!" the referee
called. The Poogles, kicking up dirt, took off, and so did Moeioe, pretending
that he was in the race also. It wasn't long though before the clattering of
Moeioe's little hooves fell far behind the pounding of the Poogles feet. He
slowed down and finally came to a stop, panting and hanging his head in resignation
as he walked back to the starting point.
"Come on and sit with us, Moeioe," Achilles called to him. "Relax and enjoy
the race." Sighing, Moeioe complied, climbing up the steps to reach us and sit
between Achilles' cloud-covered body and my own grass-green one. Something was
bothering Moeioe, Achilles and I could both tell, but we kept our silence, giving
him time. We watched the Poogles race around the track a few times before Moeioe
finally piped up.
"How come I can't run as fast as a Poogle?" he asked.
"Well Moeioe," Achilles chuckled a little, "You can't expect to be able to
keep up with them. Poogles are the fastest pets in Neopia, and those guys are
"Yeah, but why? Why are Poogles so fast? I mean, they've got even shorter,
stubbier legs than I do, so how come they can run so fast and I can't?"
"Oh," Achilles said, "Well, I think that's a question for MaxKanine."
He and Moeioe both turned to me expectantly, knowing what was coming. "Well,"
I said, not about to disappoint them, "That is, in fact, a very interesting
story." The busy racetrack and cheering fans faded into the distance as I began...
As you know now, there was once a time when there was no time in Neopia. Nothing
ever changed, and everything was the same, including all of the NeoPets. But
this all changed because of the noble Lupe, and because of the Faerie Queen,
who granted him and all of the other NeoPets the gift of time. The perpetual
winter that had hung over Neopia for as long as any could remember melted away
to glorious spring and the Month of Awakening. The NeoPets, every tribe, spent
this month enjoying their new freedom--frolicking in the sun, lying in the
grass, staying up late each night talking and laughing.
But by the time the month was over, the novelty of simply enjoying spring
was already beginning to wear off. The NeoPets cast about for something to do,
something that they had never done before, something challenging and entertaining.
Finally, someone, and nobody could ever remember exactly who had first come
up with it, suggested that they have a race. This new idea rekindled the excitement
of every NeoPet. Each tribe leader would participate in this great race across
Neopia, and their people would watch and cheer them on, hoping that their leader
would bring triumph and pride to their tribe by winning.
Although they all had found that they enjoyed running and playing for fun,
however, none of the NeoPets was really equipped for such a difficult challenge,
so they decided to ask the Faerie Queen for help. She very happily complied,
offering to grant one wish to each tribe leader. Whatever wish he or she believed
would help to win the race would be granted to that leader as well as the entire
tribe. So the NeoPets came to her one by one. Gelert asked for long legs to
make great strides, Lupe asked for strong legs to give him endurance, Uni asked
for tough hooves to run over rough terrain, Cybunny asked for long feet propel
her forward, Blumaroo asked for a strong tail to bounce on, and so it continued
until every creature had made his or her wish except for one.
Poogle wanted more than anything to win the race and bring honour to his tribe.
He knew that his wish had to be special and unique, but he didn't know just
what that could be. As it came to his turn to make his wish, he hesitated and
then finally asked in a timid voice, "Faerie Queen, I don't know what to wish
for. May--may I make my wish later."
Some of the other pets gaped and laughed, but the Faerie Queen just smiled
knowingly down at Poogle and said, "Of course you may. It's very wise to take
your time to decide what it is you truly need. You'll know when you've found
the wish you must make." With that the Queen disappeared once again, and each
NeoPet, looking a little shocked, headed home through the sunset to prepare
for the race that would begin the next day.
Morning arrived, and every NeoPet came out of their homes to gather along
the wide path that stretched across all of Neopia, which had been chosen as
the course for the Great Race. Each tribe leader lined up at the starting point,
all ready and excited to go and each confident that he or she would be the victor,
all except for Poogle, who had yet to make his wish.
The Faerie Queen had deigned to start the race off herself and act as the
referee. She stood, regal as ever, before the line of racers, wished them all
luck in her melodious voice, lifted her wand into the air and brought it down
quickly with a swishing sound. The racers took off at this signal, and those
who had wished for long legs, strong muscles, large feet, or anything else soon
left Poogle far behind and struggling to make his way through a cloud of dust.
As hopeless as he felt at the sight of all the other NeoPets disappearing
into the horizon, Poogle prodded on the best he could, all the while lamenting
that he had not made his wish before like everyone else and that he still could
not think of anything good enough to wish for. Finally, the first day of the
race was drawing to a close, and through the crimson and violet shades cast
by the setting sun, Poogle caught sight of another NeoPet up ahead. Perhaps
he hadn't fallen so far behind after all. As he drew nearer, though, it became
clear that something was wrong.
The other NeoPet was Cybunny, and the reason that Poogle was catching up to
her was that she was not moving. "What's the matter?" Poogle called to her as
Cybunny looked at him as though wondering if she should answer and then finally
said, "My foot," gesturing down helplessly toward the ground. Looking down to
where she pointed, Poogle saw that one of those big, strong feet that he had
so admired and envied at the start of the race when she had taken off at lightning
speed was now caught in a narrow crack in the rocky terrain that she had been
crossing. The idea of taking his advantage and getting ahead before Cybunny
freed herself flitted across Poogle's mind, but he quickly dismissed it. Cybunny
was obviously in pain and as there were no spectators in this region and no
other racers behind him, he was the only one who could help her.
Poogle first grabbed Cybunny's front paws with his own and tried to pull her
out of the hole, but her hind foot stayed firmly lodged where it was and Cybunny
howled with pain until he had to stop. He then tried knocking on the rock to
see if perhaps he could dig some of it away so that Cybunny could pull her foot
out, but he found it far too solid. And so it continued that idea after idea
had to be dismissed until Poogle began to feel that it was hopeless, but it
was then that he realised what he had to do.
No sooner had the thought climbed into his head than the Faerie Queen, her
radiance illuminating the growing darkness, appeared before the two NeoPets.
"You summoned me Poogle," she said. "Are you ready to make your one wish?"
"Y-yes," Poogle replied with difficulty. "Cybunny's stuck and hurt very badly.
I-I w-wish for you to free her and make her better."
Cybunny looked at Poogle with a shocked expression even as the Faerie Queen
raised her wand above their heads and said, "It shall be done." In a matter
of moments, the crack in the rock had disappeared, Cybunny's foot was freed
and as good as new. Cybunny looked at her new foot, wiggled it experimentally,
and then turned to smile at
Poogle. "Thanks," she tossed at him as she hopped off into the night, anxious
to catch up with the race.
Poogle hung his head dejectedly. "Why what's wrong Poogle?" the Faerie Queen
asked. "You've just done a very noble thing."
"I know," said Poogle, "But now I'll never have a chance to win the race.
I may as well give up."
"Oh, but no good deed goes unrewarded my little NeoPet For your generosity,
you deserve the best wish of all the racers, that special one that you have
been searching for all along, and I've already given it to you. When I was rescuing
Cybunny I was rewarding you also." Poogle looked up at her with hope gleaming
in his eyes, but then looked down at himself to see that nothing had changed.
"Oh, it's nothing you can see," the Faerie Queen continued, "But only something
within you, which is the greatest gift. Though you have none of their individual
gifts for speed, or strength, or agility Poogle, you are now the fastest of
all the NeoPets in any way."
Poogle could find nothing to say to this before the Faerie Queen had already
vanished back into whatever place it is that she stays when she does not show
herself to us. And then he decided to test out this gift that he had been given.
So he set off again on the race course, and suddenly he found himself becoming
faster and faster as he went. His legs were still short, his paws were still
stubby, his body was still less than lean and muscular, but somehow Poogle found
a speed that he had never experienced before, a speed that defied all of these
outward things, that seemed to come from within him.
He sped past Cybunny and continued on, he flew by Blumaroo, and Lupe, and
Gelert, he passed up even Uni until he had overtaken every NeoPet in the race,
still never tiring. As he passed each one, they looked at him in shock, wondering
how he could be beating them, what possible wish he could have made. None of
them knew or understood that because he had shown himself to be good on the
inside, he had been given an inner gift that could surpass all of the outer
gifts that they had ever thought to ask for. Poogle won the Great Race, of course,
bringing honour to his tribe. And ever since that day, in the Month of Racing,
have always been the greatest racers of all...
My story ended, and the small group that had gathered around the three of
us to listen in began to slowly disperse back to their seats to watch the rest
of the races. When we were alone again, I put my paw on Moeioe's shoulder. "So
you see, Moeioe, that is why Poogles are such good runners, and none of us can
ever hope to equal them in that way." He nodded, and I continued, "But, we each
have our own unique inner virtues just like the Poogles do, things that cannot
necessarily be seen on the outside but which make us all special in our own
Moeioe paused and looked down at the racetrack in contemplation for a few
moments. Then he looked back up at me and asked, "Even Moehogs?"
I chuckled and tightened my paw about his shoulders as we turned back to the
race. "Especially Moehogs."
To be continued...