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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 23rd day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 30 > Continuing Series > Legends of the Seasons: Part Six

Legends of the Seasons: Part Six

by tdyans

Gathering, Collecting, Storing, and Celebrating
As I walked in from the kitchen carrying another tray of cookies, Moeioe was standing with his two front hooves against the mantle above our fireplace, trying to crane his neck to look into the stocking that hung there with his name on it. "Moeioe!" Achilles81 scolded from where he was reclining on the couch, tired of trying to keep up with our little brother. Moeioe turned toward Achilles and appeared to be considering whether he should use his patented puppy-dog look to keep peeking at his presents when he noticed the cookies and came trotting over to where I was setting them down on the coffee table.

"I hardly think he needs any more sugar, MaxKanine," Achilles frowned, even as he snatched one of the cookies from the plate for himself.

"Well," I replied, "We have to have some cookies for Tdyans when she gets home, which means don't eat them all Moeioe," I said pointedly as the little Moehog tried to stuff another crumbly cookie into his already full mouth.

Turning away from us and the cookies to look for something else to do with his overflowing energy, he walked over to the window and looked out at the swirling snowflakes as he munched away. "When's Tdyans getting home guys?" he asked for about the thirteenth time. "I can't wait to open my presents. I bet she got me lots of trading cards and toys and books. Ooh, I hope she got me my green Lupe plushie--that's what I want most!"

Achilles and I exchanged a knowing look. Tdyans had let us in on a little secret. After Moeioe had scrawled out his wish list with the words "Green Lupe Plushie" at the very top, (underlined twice with stars and smiley faces,) she'd discovered that, in fact, no such item existed in all of Neopia. So, she was having one custom made for Moeioe, which was why she wasn't home yet. She was picking it up at that very moment.

As Moeioe crept back toward the stockings, Achilles interrupted him, "Moeioe, is that all you care about--getting presents?"

"Well," Moeioe said, hopping back over toward us boisterously, "That's what today's all about isn't it? Presents!"

"It's called the Day of Giving, Moeioe," I tried to admonish, "Not the Day of Getting."

"Right," he replied, starting to look exasperated with his two older brothers. "The Day of Giving--when our owners *give* us presents."

"Yes, but what do we give them?" I asked.

It was clear from the expression on Moeioe's face that such a thought had never occurred to him. "I don't know. Why would we give them anything?"

"Why Moeioe!" I said, "Don't you know what the whole Month of Celebrating is... well, celebrating?" Moeioe shook his head and climbed up onto the couch to settle down between me and Achilles, knowing that a story was about to begin...

***

Neopia's first summer was drawing to a close, and the Neopets started to notice changes all around them that signalled the beginning of a new season that they had never seen before. But the signs that they saw popping up all over Neopia brought them more worry than wonder. Strong gusts of wind blew all across the land, seeming to make each day colder and colder. The leaves on the trees turned strange colours--red and yellow, orange and brown--and then one morning as the Neopets awoke and walked out of their dens to face another day, they were shocked to find that some of these odd-coloured leaves had fallen to the ground. More and more seemed to fall each day, so that it appeared the trees would soon be bare... just as they had been when the terrible Winter had reigned over Neopia. So, even as the carefree younger Neopets played in the piles of crunchy leaves, the leaders of each tribe met to discuss their fears.

"It's getting too cold to grow food any more," Lenny complained.

"Yes," Shoyru agreed, "And if it gets any colder, it'll be snowing soon!"

"It'll be Winter again," Chia finally pointed out what they had all been avoiding. The crowd of Neopets immediately broke out into anxious whispers and mumbles.

It was Lupe who stepped up to the front of the group and called out for order, "Be quiet, everyone! It appears to be true--Winter is returning to Neopia. We must admit this, but we must not panic!"

"Huh," Skeith grumbled. "Of course you're not panicking with that thick fur coat to protect you from the cold." A murmur of agreements followed.

"Quiet!" Lupe shouted again, and the crowd returned to silent order. He frowned at Skeith. "Do you really think that I want Winter to return any more than you do?" he asked. "Even if I and my people can survive it, we will still suffer hardships, especially after experiencing so much better in the other seasons that the Faerie Queen has blessed us with. I'm only saying that we must face the truth, and we must make a plan in order to help each other make it through that truth." Another murmur rippled through the cave, but this time it was a positive one. The Neopets agreed. All of the tribes must work together to gather up enough food to keep them all through the Winter to come, however long it might last.

So, each tribe began gathering what food they could, not one of them shirking their responsibility. They gathered up the fruits that were falling from the trees, picked the berries that were ripe on the bushes, plucked the vegetables that sprouted up from the ground. Many traveled to the far ends of Neopia to gather food. After each tribe had spent one month gathering all of this food, they spent another month collecting it together. Those who had traveled far away to find food began the long process of carrying it back home. Those who had stayed closer to their dens began sorting the food that had been gathered, collecting it all together and sorting it in preparation for the next step in their plan.

Finally, after each tribe had collected together the food that their people had gathered, each NeoPet carried some in his arms or on his back and they trekked to the location that their leaders had chosen together. Each tribe arrived one by one with their food to store it in the huge, multi-chambered cave that the leaders had found--a cave large enough to house both their food and the many NeoPet tribes who would depend on it and on each other's warmth. They stored the food that they had collected and gathered all together, and together they would live and share it and hopefully make it through the rough winter. All in all, the three months had been the most trying time that any of the Neopets had ever been though, but they made it by working together.

And then disaster struck. The final member of the final tribe had laid down his burden inside the cave and come outside to survey their winter home with the others. As he walked out of the cave, the other Neopets gathered around looked at him and then at each other. Realising that their difficult work was finally done and that now they would be safe through the snow and biting cold, they sent up a tremendous cheer of celebration. No one noticed the tiny rocks and sand that were falling from the hillside above their cave until it was too late. They sent up cry after joyous cry until suddenly a foreboding rumbling interrupted them. Every NeoPet looked up at the sound in horror to see that the hillside was caving in, right over the entrance of the den that they had just stocked with all of their food!

"Nooooo!" Lupe cried out, and he tried to run forward, but the other Neopets held him back. There was nothing he could do but get himself hurt. There was nothing any of them could do but watch hopelessly as the mountain caved in, burying the food that they had spent so long in getting, the only food they had, beneath an immovable pile of rubble.

Turning away in despair, Lupe ran blindly from the crowd and the site of all their work gone to waste. He ran and ran until his heart pounded, each breath stung, and his legs ached with the exertion. Finally, certain that no one had followed him, he gave his body the rest that it was begging him for, stopping in a clearing in the middle of a heavy forest. Lupe realised as he looked around that he had no idea where he was. It didn't matter anyway, he thought to himself. His plan had failed. They had all failed, and now they would be doomed when Winter returned. He bent his head and began to cry--for himself, for his tribe, and for all the Neopets.

"Why are you crying, Lupe?" a familiar, beautiful voice asked.

Lupe looked up at the soft glow of the Faerie Queen, who now hovered before him. He wiped a paw quickly at the tears streaming down his furry face, ashamed to let her see him like this, but he did not answer her question.

As though reading his thoughts, and Lupe realised that she probably was, the Faerie Queen spoke again. "It's not over yet, Lupe. You have not failed. None of you have."

"Wh-What do you mean?" Lupe asked, still struggling to control the quiver in his voice.

"Look," she replied simply, waving her sceptre before him. A strange circle appeared in front of Lupe's face, simply floating in mid-air. He reflected that it looked like the surface of a lake, but instead of seeing his own face, he saw all of the other Neopets that he had left behind at the mouth of their destroyed cave. He looked on in shock as each of them began moving the rocks and boulders that covered the cave's entrance one by one. Lupe could not believe that after all the work they had already done and after the horrible setback that they had just suffered, they were still all willing to take on what seemed like an impossible task. The smaller Neopets gathered up the pebbles and small stones, while the larger pets carried the larger rocks, and they all worked together to shove the huge boulders out of the way. Lupe looked up amazed at the Faerie Queen, who was smiling down at him, pride shining in her lovely eyes.

"You Neopets," she said, reaching down to pat Lupe's head fondly, "Have learned so much in this past year."

Finally able to find words, Lupe replied, "You've given us many gifts to help us along the way."

"Yes," she said, "But now I will give you the gift that you most needed but never knew to ask for--the greatest gift of all." Even as she was saying this, the Faerie Queen began to fade from view. Lupe had the sudden strange feeling that he would never see her again, and he called out to her, but she simply smiled enigmatically at him as she finally disappeared completely back into the darkness of the forest.

Lupe looked around, not knowing what to do or what to expect, not knowing what the Faerie Queen had meant by "the greatest gift of all." Suddenly, he heard a rustling in the bushes outside the clearing. He tensed and bared his teeth, ready to face whatever strange thing was coming toward him. Out of the bushes walked an odd creature, the likes of which Lupe had never seen before. It looked somewhat like the Faerie Queen, except that there was no light surrounding it and it walked on the ground just like he did. And yet he was certain that it was not a NeoPet either.

Both stood quiet and still, simply staring at each other in wonder and curiosity until Lupe finally spoke up, "Wh-what are you?"

"Why, I'm a human," it said. The boy--for Lupe would soon learn that this was what he was--walked slowly forward toward Lupe. "What are you?"

"I'm a NeoPet," Lupe replied, as the boy came closer and closer. Finally, they were face to face. Cautiously, the boy reached out a hand and then he was stroking the fur between Lupe's ears, just as the Faerie Queen had only moments before. As Lupe leaned into the comforting touch and looked up at the boy to see him smiling back, he had a sense of rightness and belonging that he had never felt before. He could not explain it then, nor even years later, but he knew somehow that this was meant to be and that everything would be all right.

As twilight settled over the land, Lupe returned to the collapsed hillside where he had left his fellow Neopets earlier that afternoon, the boy walking by his side. As he approached, he was greeted by the wonderful sounds of Neopets celebrating, and as they came into view, he could see why. The Neopets frolicked together joyfully in the valley below, but they were not alone. For each NeoPet there was a human, a girl or boy just like the boy who Lupe had found, and yet each of them unique. Lupe looked up at his boy and they smiled at each other before running down to join in the celebration.

After that day, the humans built homes for their Neopets, full of warm fire, warm beds, and warm food, and the Neopets no longer had any worry about surviving through the harsh winter, nor through any other season, for the rest of their days. Most of all, the humans brought them love. This was the gift that they needed but did not know to ask for. And that is why, ever since that first Month of Celebrating, we Neopets celebrate with a Day of Giving. But it is we who should be giving the gifts to our owners, for it was they who gave us that first and greatest gift of all...

***

Tdyans hurried quickly through the door of our NeoHome, pushing it closed quickly behind her against the biting wind that threatened to encroach on our comfortable warmth. She was carrying two big bags full of neatly wrapped gifts, which Achilles and I took from her and set down beside the tree just as Moeioe came running into the room to greet her. She hugged us all hello, and then Moeioe presented her with the new object of his enthusiasm--a single sheet of paper.

Tdyans took the picture from him with all the reverence that a work of art deserved. It was a picture of the four of us, standing in front of our NeoHome and building a snow Blumaroo. The words "Happy Day of Giving! Thanks for Being our Owner!" were lovingly scrawled across the top of the page, and it was signed at the bottom, "Love, Moeioe." A good number of Moeioe's once-brand-new crayons lay broken on his bedroom floor now; hooves aren't exactly suited for holding fragile writing utensils. But Moeioe was too anxious to see Tdyans' reaction to his gift to worry about the loss. He shuffled from hoof to hoof as she continued to examine the picture. "Do you like it Tdyans? I know it's not much. I wish I'd had time to buy you a present, but--"

Tdyans looked down at him and smiled gently. "Oh, Moeioe, this is the best present you could have ever gotten me. Thank you." Moeioe smiled back a bit sheepishly, but was quickly snapped out of his shyness by the words, "Now, isn't it time you guys got over to that tree and opened *your* presents?" It was no sooner said than done.

About an hour later, we sat together in contented silence in the living room, listening to the crackling of the burning logs in the fireplace. Moeioe was playing happily on the floor with his green Lupe plushie, while Achilles examined and modeled his shiny new Gelert armour with all the pride and excitement of the youngest NeoPet I sat quietly beside Tdyans on our weathered couch, running my paw over the beautifully decorated cover of the journal that she had given me. The idea of writing my stories down had never really occurred to me before, but now I found it intriguing and almost impossible to resist. And maybe I could add something of my own to these stories the had been passed down from generation to generation--something of my family, who had made it through another year in Neopia together, and who I knew, as I looked around affectionately at them, would see many more to come.

The End


Tdyans is the Editor in Chief of the Neopian Times Appreciation Guild. She is also the author of many stories published in The Neopian Times. This is her second series.
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 Five

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