Hidden Talents and a New Friend
THE NEXT MORNING saw Angel and I together again at the foot of Kabuggles Pass.
Angel looked at me.
"Holly, could you tell me exactly what you didn't tell me yesterday?"
"OK, Angel, just wait till she comes."
"But who's 'she'?"
Angel looked sceptical, but she waited. All too soon, the cheerful young voice
I had heard the day before came floating through the air, only this time it
was in words I could not recognise nor pronounce. Yet the voice was the same.
I looked toward the top of the pass and there was that brilliant scarlet figure
making its way speedily downward.
"J.J.!" I called. "Hey, here!"
J.J. banked and came to a stop beside us. "Hello," she greeted me warmly. "You
were the Usul who couldn't-"
"Don't push it," I said irritably, and she laughed. "Funny how you can remember
my name and I never got yours," she went on. "And your friend here hasn't been
"Oh, of course. My name's Hollyfrost, just call me Holly. And this is my best
friend AngelDust. Angel, this is J.J."
Angel extended a paw and smiled. Obviously she had gotten over whatever surprise
she had felt upon seeing J.J. "Just call me Angel."
"You sang a funny song today," I remarked.
J.J. laughed. "That was a song in Shoyran. It would sound funny to you. You
know the story, I'm sure." I did. Long before the coming of the humans and the
intervention of the faeries, each NeoPet had a language specific to its species,
and as a result the different species had no mode of communication with the
others. When Fyora had intervened she had bestowed a common language among all
NeoPets, faeries and humans alike, but some pets held on to the Old Speech and
soon became bilingual. I could speak a fair amount of Usulin myself.
"Anyway," Angel broke in, "what exactly did you come for? You can't just have
wanted to meet Holly and me, I'm sure."
"Holly wanted to try my snowboard. I said I'd give her lessons." J.J. placed
her board in front of me. "Let's see you get on."
I placed my foot paws into the slots. They were made for long, flat Shoyru
and not tiny Usul feet but J.J. managed to fit them in. For once, I felt stable.
There was not the fear of sliding away like when I was on my skis.
With a little practice, and gentle coaching and encouragement from J.J. and
Angel, who was managing to swallow her shock quite effectively, after a few
minutes I was able to make my way cautiously down a short slope.
"I did it!" I yelled, dancing about. Angel danced with me, sharing in my joy
at having finally accomplished something.
J.J. grinned. "You're a natural, Holly," she said. " I really think that with
a bit more practice you'll soon be doing tricks."
"Tricks?" I asked. "What kind?"
"I'll show you some other time, when you've progressed to the halfpipe. Right
now we just concentrate on you getting around. But how does it feel?"
"Feels great! I love the feeling!"
We worked on it some more and after a time I was feeling rather pleased with
myself. I was more confident than I had been, and Kabuggles' was a blue-square
run, after all, meaning that it was for intermediate level and not beginners.
"I have to get on," J.J. said. "I do want to get some snowboarding done today,
not that it hasn't been a picnic teaching you, Holly."
"Thanks, so much," I replied. I could barely contain my excitement and happiness
of discovering my talent.
"No problem. I'll meet you here again tomorrow, shall I?"
"Oh, yes, please!"
J.J. had no sooner left, singing her unpronounceable Shoyran song than Angel's
common sense took over.
"Holly, you do realise what you've just done, don't you?"
"What? You don't mean J.J.?"
She shook her head. "Holly, I like J.J. She's a nice pet, but…Look at it this
way. Your parents are skiing phenomena, the pride of the Usul race, and your
siblings are shaping out to be the same."
"So! The Usulin sport is skiing, Holly, not snowboarding! You're expected
to be a skier, Holly, being descended from the very Usul who discovered skiing!
Bruces ice-skate, Poogles race, Usuls ski! Usuls don't snowboard!"
I turned to face my best friend. "But remember, Angel? I can't ski. I tried
to do what they want me to do, and I can't do it." Angel appeared to be thinking
for a moment, and I pressed on.
"I've never been able to do anything all my life, Angel, and now I've finally
found something I actually have skill in doing-and I like doing it, Angel! It's
fun. And what does it matter if the Usullyrn doesn't think it's right?"
"What matters, Holly, is that if they find out, you'll probably be an outcast
to us. Maybe not literally, but they'd look at you funny. And your parents,
especially your father…"
She had a point there. Knowledge of my new hobby would either crush my father
or make him totally livid.
"Well…they don't have to find out. We can do this in secret! You won't tell
anyone, will you?" Angel frowned, then smiled. "All right, I guess I could.
After all, J.J.'s right, you know-you really do have a talent for it."
I threw my paws around her. "Thanks so much! This means a lot to me."
Angel started to say something, then stopped and her ears perked. "Shh! Listen,
I hear something."
We both strained our keen ears and sure enough, there it was. Twigs and leaves
were rustling slightly. Both of us moved quickly in the direction of the noise.
It was coming from a large bush with a layer of thick snow across the top. We
pounced on the bush at the same time and dragged out a struggling, kicking form.
It was another Usul. And not just any Usul.
"Tokum?" Angel exclaimed in surprise. "What in Neopia were you doing there?"
I, however, was more enraged than surprised. "Spying on us no doubt! Of all
the low-down, sneaky, Jhudoran things to do…"
"I wasn't spying-"
"Don't you dare deny it!" I was really shouting now.
"You were spying, it's written all over your face!"
"Holly, calm down."
"I won't calm down, Angel! And if you ever dare do this again Tokum, I'm going
to drag you down to the Ice Arena and at the end of it you'll be no better off
than an Abominable Snowball in the middle of Sakhmet!"
"Holly, there is an awful lot of snow up there on the peaks that's just waiting
to fall at the slightest noise…"
There was no fighting that logic. I contented myself with muttering more threats
under my breath. Angel turned to Tokum. "So why were you back there?"
Tokum hung his head guiltily. "I was just skiing by myself over the ridge when
I heard you guys talking about going someplace to meet some pet, and Holly,
you seemed to be really secretive about who that pet was, so I…followed you,
and hid in the bush, 'cause I was curious, and I'm really sorry if I did something
My anger was already beginning to subside. He really did look rather sorry.
"It's all right. But you know about J.J., don't you, now?"
"And the snowboarding?"
"And what FrostPromise will do to me if they find out?"
"Yes," he said, nodding vigorously. "And I will keep the boarding a secret,
Holly, I promise I will!" Angel smiled at me, I smiled back and we both smiled
at Tokum, who did so shyly back.
"Well, then it's a secret between the three of us. And no one dare tell, or
Holly will probably carry out her earlier threat."
We all laughed, together.
To be continued...