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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 15th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 29 > Continuing Series > Legends of the Seasons: Part Five

Legends of the Seasons: Part Five

by tdyans

Hiding
Achilles81 allowed his legs to slide out from under him, collapsing exhausted on the hallway floor. "Oh, let's just give up MaxKanine. He'll come out eventually... when he gets hungry."

"Achilles!" I admonished.

He gave me a long-suffering look and rolled over onto his back to stare helplessly at the ceiling. "Well... he would."

I walked over to sit beside him with a sigh. To tell the truth, I was feeling as frustrated as he was with our search. You see, Moeioe's bed time was approaching, and Moeioe, being fully aware of this fact, had cleverly suggested a game of hide and seek only a little while ago. It was the perfect plot, and I was more than a little chagrined for having fallen for it, even as I was secretly proud of the little Moehog for thinking it up.

For a while now, Moeioe had had a secret hiding spot somewhere in our NeoHome and despite our best efforts, Achilles and I had not yet been able to figure out just where it was. We're both ace trackers, but the fact that Moeioe, and by extension his scent, had been all over our NeoHome, made that method of finding him nearly worthless.

"Moeioe!" I called out. "You've got us beat Moeioe, now come on out!"

We both waited a few moments with our ears pricked, but there was no apparent answer. Achilles sighed, "Nice try, Max."

"All right Moeioe," I called out again. "Since you're so good at hiding, I've got a story for you about just that." And with that, I began, hoping that my tale would draw our little brother out...

***

As Neopia's first summer continued on, the trees that had once been small and bare now seemed to grow taller, leafier, and more full of delicious fruit with each passing day. And each NeoPet quickly learned that the biggest and juiciest fruits could only be found at the very tops of the trees, which were now too high for any of the NeoPets to reach.

Many of them found ways to use the gifts and skills that they had already been given to get to these special treats. Blumaroo's people used their springy tails to bounce up and reach the high fruit. Moehog's tribe used their strong tusks to shake the trees until the fruit fell to the ground. Mynci's tribe learned to climb the trees, and Pteri and her people flew up to reach the highest branches.

The other tribes, however, could do nothing but watch enviously while they themselves had to settle for eating the small, bitter fruits from the lower branches. Chomby was perhaps the most jealous of all of the NeoPets who could eat the high fruit. He had loved the high fruit the few times that he had managed to scramble for a piece when one of Moehog's tribe shook it down. And with each little taste he got, it became harder and harder to return to eating the fruit from the lower branches.

Finally, one day when Chomby had gotten lucky enough to discover a big, juicy piece of fruit that someone had not noticed lying in the tall grass, he found that he couldn't stand it any more. Turning back to the tiny, bitter fruits that he normally ate, he could hardly bear the idea of he and his tribe having to eat them for the rest of their lives. "Oh," he sighed, "I wish that we could reach the high fruits somehow!"

"Do you?" asked a melodious voice.

Chomby spun around in surprise to see who had spoken. Hovering there behind him, casting out a warming glow as always, was the Faerie Queen. The Faerie Queen--Chomby couldn't believe he had never thought of this before. "Yes!" he cried excitedly, "I do, of course!"

"Very well," she answered, holding her sceptre over Chomby. "Now you shall be able to reach any fruit you like." And with that, she disappeared once again. Chomby looked around anxiously, wondering what gift he had been given. He didn't seem to have wings, or tusks, or a springy tail. Suddenly, as he looked down at his body, trying to figure out what was different, he realised something. His feet looked a lot farther away than they normally did. Looking back up, he saw that he was actually eye-level with the high branches of all the trees! Without bothering to question how this was so, Chomby simply began munching happily away at the delicious fruits that he could now reach with no effort at all.

Suddenly, Chomby's excited eating was interrupted by the sound of raucous laughter from behind him. Wondering what was so funny, Chomby turned around and was surprised to see Pteri, giggling loudly from the high branches of a tree and pointing straight at him. "What are you laughing at?" Chomby frowned.

Pteri held her sides and struggled to speak around her laughter. "Heehee, y-you-your n-neck, hahaha! You l-look--haha--ridiculous!" No longer able to contain herself, Pteri laughed so hard that she fell out of the tree. She never stopped laughing even as she hit the ground with a thud. She just kept on chortling uncontrollably as she rolled about in the grass.

Chomby didn't know what was wrong, but as Pteri's laughter attracted more NeoPets and each of them began snickering along at the sight of him, he became distinctly worried. He ran as fast as his four legs would carry him, trying to ignore the NeoPets he passed along the way who stared and pointed, and finally he reached the lake and gazed down with expectant horror at his new reflection. He hadn't grown taller, only his neck had! As he observed the comical appearance of his stretched-out neck, he understood what all the other NeoPets had been laughing at.

"Hey, noodle-neck!" a taunt rang out from the other side of the lake and Chomby looked up to see Meerca balancing on his tail and chuckling. "How can you stand to stare at that ugly mug of yours for so long?!" As Meerca went into hysterics over his own joke, Chomby ran away again, feeling tears of distress gathering in his eyes. He couldn't go back to his den, couldn't face his tribe after cursing them in this way. But he couldn't bare to stay out in the open, with everyone laughing and pointing at him. He ran toward a place where he hoped he could be alone--a mountain in the distance.

Finally Chomby reached the mountain and thankfully slowed his pace, realising as he looked around that he did truly seem to be alone at last. But he couldn't take the risk that someone would appear even here to mock him, so when he spotted a small cave in the side of the mountain, he went towards it. As he entered the cave, Chomby realised that it was actually deeper than he had at first thought. Happy to get even further away from the other NeoPets, he crept slowly through the darkness of the tunnel that led into the heart of the mountain.

Finally Chomby reached the end of the long tunnel, and he was surprised to find that it opened up into a little cavern from which came a soft glow. Almost expecting to meet the Faerie Queen again, Chomby continued into the cavern only to find that he was not alone. Two other NeoPets, Cybunny and Poogle, huddled dejectedly in the middle of the cave. They both looked up with as much shock as Chomby himself was feeling as he walked into the light of the candle that sat between them. "Chomby!" Poogle exclaimed. "What are you doing here? What happened?"

Chomby, relieved at least that they hadn't laughed at his appearance right away like the other NeoPets had, sat down beside them and told them everything that had happened to him that day, from his fateful wish to all the ridicule of the other pets, and finally to his arrival here in search of some place that he could escape their cruelty at his new appearance. "Why are you two here?" he asked as his story concluded.

"I wished that my people would be able to hear better, in order to protect ourselves," Cybunny spoke up, her voice quivering a little. "And the Faerie Queen gave me these horrible, huge ears! They all laugh at me and my tribe too, so I come here often to get away from their taunts."

"It's the same for me," Poogle said sadly. "I wished for my tribe to be able to defend ourselves better. I thought the Faerie Queen would make us big and strong and scary, but she just left us small and gave us these gigantic teeth that look so silly! All the other NeoPets make fun and say our teeth are too big for our heads." Chomby looked back and forth at Cybunny and Poogle. He had never really noticed anything wrong with them before, but now that they pointed their faults out to him, it was quite clear that they were in the same situation that he was. They all sighed and hung their heads in hopelessness.

Finally, Chomby broke the silence. "If only we never had to go back and face them all. If only we could just disappear forever, we'd never have to stand being laughed at again." He looked up to see both Poogle and Cybunny looking at him with awed expressions.

"That's it!" Poogle exclaimed. "We'll wish to disappear!"

"Then they won't be able to make fun of us any more!" Cybunny added. Chomby nodded excitedly at the idea and called out for the Faerie Queen. She appeared at the NeoPets' bidding as she always did.

"I know what you've called me here to ask me," she said, a strangely sad expression covering her beautiful face. "Do you really want to disappear? Are you certain?"

"Yes!" all three chorused.

The Faerie Queen sighed, "Very well. I shall grant your wish. But I will not allow you to make such an important wish on behalf of all of your people. You must go to them and offer them the choice whether to follow you in this wish or not."

So, the three NeoPets agreed. They waited until nightfall to leave the cave, so that no one was likely to see them, and then they ventured back to the dens of their respective tribes. They told their people about the wish they had made and offered them the choice to make this same wish and disappear or to stay behind and face the ridicule of the other NeoPets. Most chose to follow their leaders. Only a few from each tribe decided that they would rather stay despite the taunting that they would receive because of their appearance. They all went to sleep in the safety of their dens that night, and when they woke the next morning, Poogle, Cybunny, and Chomby, along with all who had agreed with their wish, had simply disappeared, never to be seen again.

As for those that stayed behind, they endured the jokes and barbs, and bit by bit the other NeoPets stopped making fun of them, until finally no one was left who remembered what they had looked like before and did not see their current appearance as simply normal. In fact, the descendants of those first Chombys, Cybunnies, and Poogles who chose to stay rather than run away from their problems, and whose numbers remain limited to this very day, are now quite respected and admired among the other NeoPets, no matter what they look like.

As for those who disappeared, some say that they are still among us, but unable to be seen or heard by any. Others say they were taken away to a faraway land that no other NeoPet can ever reach. It matters not which theory you believe. Either way, while their wish to disappear forever may have protected them from being hurt by the other NeoPets, it would also forever shield them from finding those who would not hurt them, from ever being able to discover true friendship...

***

As the story ended, Moeioe came trudging toward us from around the corner at the end of the hall. His eyelids were drooping and it looked as though the location of his secret hiding place would remain a mystery to us for another day, but I decided to focus on small victories. Achilles was snoring on the carpeted floor beside me, and as Moeioe sidled up and leaned against me tiredly it looked as though I might actually be lucky enough to join him soon.

"That was a good story Maxi," Moeioe yawned, "But I wouldn't want to hide from you guys forever."

"I'm glad, Moeioe." I smiled down at him as I led him upstairs toward his bedroom. "I'm glad."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Legends of the Seasons: Part One

Legends of the Seasons: Part Two

Legends of the Seasons: Part Three

Legends of the Seasons: Part Four

Legends of the Seasons: Part Six

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