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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 5th day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 64 > Continuing Series > Through Another's Eyes: Part Three

Through Another's Eyes: Part Three

by ember188

The Redemption
He had decided not to stay. At first he'd thought he would, but he didn't feel he deserved to be eating the Chias' food. Especially when they needed it more than him.

     He had tried to call Estella, had thought maybe he had finally done what she'd wanted of him. But she wouldn't come to him. He wished he knew why. He didn't know where he would go, didn't belong to the Chias or the Lupes. Maybe he would find some way to make enough money to buy a morphing potion so he could go back to his real family. But somehow, he didn't think they would be too enthusiastic about how he'd changed.

     Had he changed? Other than physically? In a way that mattered? He just held one point of view differently, saw one issue from a new angle. But when it was one of the most important issues to other Lupes, it might just make all of the difference in the world.

     He wished he knew what to do. Maybe he would just wander for a while. Maybe he would find one of those big Chia cities that Tricky had mentioned. He probably wouldn't fit there either, but where else would he fit? He, a Lupe trapped in a Chia's body. Nowhere, really. He gave a sad sigh. Why had Estella abandoned him?

     He was alone now, sitting in the forest a few yards from the hollow-tree entrance to the underground Chia village. It was quite. It was very quite. And then there was a rustle in the bushes.

     A dark green figure lunged at Elm, knocking him off of the tree stump he sat on. He started to run but a second figure was blocking his way. He turned around and started to run again, but a third Lupe stood there. He turned around once again, only to find that his very last route of escape was blocked off by yet another dark green Lupe.

     "All right, Chia. You have a LOT of explaining to do," said the first Lupe, whom Elm recognised as Forest.

     "That's right!" chorused his three brothers.

     Elm gulped and backed up, running straight into Aspen. He swerved and started backing up again. "Um... I... I..." he gasped. He took a deep breath and shouted "ESTELLA!!!"

     Nothing happened.

     Aspen growled. "Aw, forget the interrogation! Let's get it!" He lunged.

     A dark shape dropped onto Aspen's face. Temporarily blinded, he screamed in rage as he tried to shake the creature off. Elm recognised Tricky's cape ruffling in the air.

     The other three Lupes turned in surprise, and Forest suddenly howled in pain as Chipper the yellow Chia bit down on his tail. Chipper gripped tightly to it as Forest dashed around trying to shake him off. Chestnut pulled the same trick on Hickory, and Peachy jumped on top of Pine's head and started chewing on his ear. "Wide 'um owmoy!" she shouted, her mouth still full of Pine's ear.

     "Hey! Kid!" Tricky shouted to Elm. "Go ahead and run for it!" She caught his odd stare and added, "It's under control. We do this type of thing ALL the time." Elm took her word for it and dove into the hollow tree. He watched anxiously as the turmoil continued to rage.

     Suddenly, Forest swerved in a way that made his tail knock right against Aspen's head. The resulting blow, in addition to knocking Aspen over, bonked the two Chias' heads together and caused them to lose their grips. They slid to the ground dazed and landed in the middle of a circle of VERY angry Lupes. Pine and Hickory finally managed to shake off Peachy and Chestnut, sending them flying into their friends. Elm's family closed in on the four Chias, circling and growling. Preparing for the kill.

     For one moment, time seemed to stand still. And in that moment, something deep inside of Elm clicked into place.

     "STOP!!!" Elm shouted, jumping out of the tree and rushing toward the group. The Lupes turned to glare at him, but the anger in their faces quickly turned to surprise, and then to shock. The four of them backed away in disbelief as a very, VERY familiar green Lupe approached and stood protectively over his tiny friends.

The Return
     "Elm..." Forest whispered in disbelief. Then his face hardened. "What's going on here?" he asked angrily.

     Elm looked at himself and realised that he was a Lupe again. He let out a sigh of relief. "It's a long story," he said, "but there are two important points I need to make. One: these," he gestured towards the little Chias at his feet, "are my friends. I don't care if they're Chias. I wouldn't care if they were mutant Greebles. They are, and that's all there is to it. Two: I am NOT going to hunt Chias. I don't care what you think and there is nothing you can say that will change my mind."

     "BUT IT'S A FAMILY TRADITION!" Forest bellowed. Elm calmly told his father Tricky's story of the Mystery Island Lupe tribe. "WELL THIS IS DIFFERENT!" the older Lupe shouted. "Look here, young Lupe. I am your father, and you are my pup. That means that you HAVE to do what I tell you, LIKE IT OR NOT!"

     Hickory stepped in. "No, Father, you're wrong about that. Elm isn't a little kid anymore. He may not have completed the ceremony, but today he demonstrated his adulthood in an even more important way. He has made an important decision for himself. While I may not agree with him, I respect his decision because the fact that he made it based on what he feels is right says a lot more about how mature he is than any stupid old ceremony ever could."

     Moved by his oldest brother's speech, (though he couldn't understand a word of it) Pine jumped up and down and yipped approvingly. Elm smiled, and even Aspen grudgingly gave a few nods.

     Forest sighed and looked from one of his sons to the next. Then he looked down at the Chias, who were hugging onto Elm's legs, and then back at Elm again. Then he gave a short nod. "All right," he said, "I understand. I suppose you really are grown up enough to make some choices for yourself. I'll tell you what: you respect my decision to hunt occasionally, and I'll respect yours not to."

     Elm looked down at the little Chias at his feet. "And my friends?"

     Forest sighed again. "My eyes are getting old, and it's hard for me to tell one Chia from another anyway. But I don't go hunting very often at all these days anyhow. But, I'll be sure to warn you when I do so that you have a fair chance to get word to them to lay low. Is that fair enough?"

     Elm looked down at his little friends. "Is it?" he asked them. The four Chias bit their lips and nodded, not completely comfortable with the agreement but understanding that it was the best they'd get.

     Forest nodded. "Good. Come on boys, we need to be heading home." Elm's three brothers, understanding that their sibling would want a few minutes to himself, headed after their father.

     "Well," Elm said (a bit awkwardly) to Tricky and her Chia friends, "Good luck to all of you. If I know you, Tricky, Dad is going to be VERY disappointed the next time he and my brothers go hunting." He winked.

     Tricky nodded. "You know me."

     Peachy smiled. "Yep. She's got a lot of influence, you know. When the Lupes go out, the Chias will come in. All thanks to our inside source. Hey, we ought to find a way to land a scout in EVERY Lupe family around here."

     Elm laughed. "Like I said before, good luck. And thanks for everything." The four Chias each said good bye and then scurried off into the hollow tree entrance.

     When they were out of sight, Estella appeared before him. She smiled warmly. "Hello there, young Lupe. I see you've finally got the lesson down."

     Elm eyed her warily. He still wasn't sure that he liked this faerie who kept meddling in his life, even if it had all turned out for the best. "I suppose I did," he answered tartly. "But I have one question: why did you have to pick on me? I'm assuming that this isn't something you do all of the time."

     Estella's smile grew wider. "You mean you really don't know?" she asked tauntingly. Elm shook his head. "I have three reasons for choosing you. First, you are young and still growing. You can't change a Kougra's stripes; you have to catch him before they grow in. Second, and most important, you have a capacity to care. I knew if someone as kind as you are inside could just UNDERSTAND what it is really like for the Chias, that would be all the motivation you would need to change. Finally, you are in a position where you can teach other Lupes what you have learned. That, little Lupe, is your next challenge." She disappeared in a gust of wind before he could ask what she meant by that.

     Elm sat for a moment in quiet contemplation. Who did Estella want him to teach? Surely not the world. Not all at once, at any rate. He did have a number of friends in the forest, but something inside of him told him that he was supposed to start even smaller than that. Who then? Not Forest or Hickory or Aspen: they were all either too old or to stubborn to really understand.

     As he was thinking, Pine surprised him by suddenly trotting back up to him. "Are you coming or not?" he asked.

     Elm smiled, "Oh, I'm coming. Not to worry. Here, why don't we walk back together."

     "All right," Pine said, and fell into place beside him. "By the way," Pine said, "Why DID you protect those Chias? What's so great about them anyway?"

     Elm smiled, suddenly understanding something. "Well, Pine," he told his little brother, "Chias are Neopets too--just like you and me--see? It took ME quite a while to understand that myself, but it's really all very simple. You see, something rather odd happened to me while I was hunting this morning..." The two Lupes walked slowly, a purpose in Elm's stride, as he related the events of the day, and more importantly the message they carried, to his youngest sibling.

The End
Previous Episodes

Through Another’s Eyes: Part One

Through Another's Eyes: Part Two

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