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Greyberries


by jesse12_3

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Deep within the Mystery Island forest lives a Yurble tribe. It is a small tribe, only twenty Yurbles or so. The Yurbles in the village are painted every color except grey. They say painting yourself grey is a dishonor to the tribe. The Yurbles live deep within the forest at the base of a large mountain that was forbidden to climb. Anyone who went up the mountain never came back. They say it is a home to a monster. A monster so horrible, the people of the village fear to speak its name. They say it comes down from the peaks of the mountain at night and kidnaps anyone who sets foot outside their homes while blackness still fills the sky. But there was one Yurble who dared to climb it. But not because he was forced to. He chose to.

     * * *

     "Here's another one!" yelled Flick the Starry Yurble as he tossed a large berry into a basket far below on the ground.

     A spotted head poked out of the leaves of the tree next to Flick.

     "Gee, Flick, how many are you going to find?" said Flick's friend, Hedge the spotted Yurble.

     "Can't a Yurble help his tribe out?" mocked Flick at Hedge.

     "I think you already broke the record several times for the most fruit gathered," said Hedge.

     "I think somebody's jealous!" mocked Flick as he clung to the branch.

     "No, I'm not!" answered Hedge. "And we better start on the high branches if we want to finish before it gets too hot!"

     The two Yurbles began to climb higher in search of fruit. Flick pulled berries off the tree like mad and through them down into the basket. He was the fastest berry picker in the whole tribe and was very proud of it. During his berry picking frenzy, he clasped his hand around a small grey berry. He pulled it off the vine and was about to throw it down into the basket when something stopped him. He took a closer look at the berry. He had never seen one like this. There were no grey berries around here.

     Flick climbed down from the tree, still clutching the berry. When his feet touched the forest earth he called out for Hedge.

     "Hedge, come down here! Look what I found!"

     Hedge climbed down his tree and ran over to Flick.

     "What's that?" asked Hedge as he saw the grey lump in Flicks hand.

     "It's some sort of berry," said Flick holding out the berry so Hedge could see it. "It's strange; I've never seen this kind growing around here."

     "Was there only one on the tree?"

     Flick thought back to when he found the berry for a moment.

     "Yeah, it was alone. Wonder what it tastes like?"

     "Well, just eat it or throw it away. You know how the tribe is against the color grey."

     Flick just shrugged and shoved the berry into his mouth. "Tastes like nothing," he said. Flick then walked over to his tree and began to climb back up it.

     * * *

     "How much do you think we got?" asked Flick as the two Yurbles entered the main street of the village carrying the basket filled with fruit.

     "Enough to feed the entire village for the next month," said Hedge.

     "If we don't all get picked off by the kidnapper," said Flick. Recently, Yurbles had been disappearing more then ever before. There used to be only one or two attacks a year. Now there were at least two attacks a week. The only clue to where they were taken to was a large bird-like shape flying towards the forbidden mountain.

     The two friends carried the basket of fruit over to a large wooden hut that served as a food storage house. They carried the basket inside and sat it down right next to a large stash of bananas.

     Hedge looked up at Flick. The pupils of Flick's eyes weren't white like they should be, but a bloodshot red.

     "Flick, what happened to your eyes?" asked Hedge. "You look like you've been crying."

     "What?" said Flick. "C'mon, there's a mirror back at my house. I need to see this."

     The two Yurbles ran down the road to Flick's bamboo house. They burst through Flick's door and ran to his small living room. Flick ran over to his small wall mirror and peered into the glass. His eyes were red and bloodshot.

     "Weird," said Flick.

     "Maybe if you take a nap or something your eyes might clear up," suggested Flick.

     "Yeah okay, I'll go try and sleep for a few hours," answered Flick. "I'll see you later, Hedge."

     * * *

     Flick woke up to a nudge on his shoulder. His eyes opened to see his blue Faellie Skip standing on his stomach.

     "Oh, hey, Skip," said Flick. The Yurble moved his paw to pet Skip when he stopped it in mid air.

     It was grey.

     Flick looked at his other paw. It was grey too.

     Flick ran too his living room mirror and peered into it. His starry appearance was gone. Flick was grey.

     He started to panic. What could he do? He didn't have a paintbrush to repaint himself with. Oh, if only his tribe wasn't so proud of themselves.

     Someone knocked on the door. Flick peeked out through the curtains. It was Hedge! Flick pulled the door open and Hedge jumped back in surprise. Flick pulled him inside before Hedge could say anything.

     "Hedge," said Flick. "I need you to go and buy me a paintbrush! I don't care what color. I'll pay you back later. Just do it!" And he shoved Hedge out the door without explaining anything.

     A neighbor Yurble happened to be passing by at the exact moment Flick opened the door for Hedge. She saw Hedge's spotted form, and then she saw Flick. The moment Flick pulled Hedge inside, she ran to tell the village elder.

     Flick was anxiously awaiting Hedge's return when he heard a loud knock on his door. He flung it open with a huge grin, but that grin fell slowly and his facial expression turned from happiness to fear. He was staring and the elder's two assistants, who were brown and twice the size of normal Yurbles. The huge Yurbles never spoke a word; they just picked up Flick by his arms and dragged him away.

     After a long time of being dragged through the village, Flick was thrown into a large hut where the elder spoke to his people. Or more like frightened them. Two large torches illuminated numerous frightening tiki masks. Flick looked up. A large fire Yurble towered over him. It was Drako, elder of the tribe.

     "He doesn't look starry to me," said Drako. "Well, Flick, do you know what happens to Yurbles such as yourself when they paint themselves grey?"

     "I DIDN'T PAINT MYSELF!" screamed Flick. "IT WAS THIS BERRY I ATE!"

     "I don't care!" yelled Drako back. "Being grey is a sign of low-self esteem. Our tribe has been proud of ourselves for as long as we have existed. You have shamed us. You are hereby banned from the village!"

     "BUT-"

     "Bring me the rope," said Drako to one of the large brown Yurbles, who disappeared into a closet and came back out with a red rope that was tied in a circle like a necklace. A skull pendant dangled from it. Drako took it and placed at around Flick's neck. "It's your banishment rope. Take it and go."

     Flick ran from the hut. He ran down the road, past children who laughed and past adults who shouted insults at him. It had to have been Hedge who ratted him out. Nobody else knew about his color. He kept running. He saw Hedge in the middle of the road with no paintbrush. He ran past Hedge. He stopped.

     "Flick, I'm really sorry," Hedge said apologetically. "I couldn't find a paintbrush."

     "Tell it to someone who cares!" yelled Flick.

     Flick then ran from the village and out into the forest. He didn't look back to see Hedge shed a tear.

     * * *

NIGHTTIME, YURBLE VILLAGE

     Kit the Shadow Yurble sat in her chair outside her hut enjoying the evening, as lots of Yurbles in the village did at that time. But she didn't expect what was going to happen. Nobody did.

     Suddenly, screams came from down the road. "IT'S ATTACKING!"

     All of a sudden a large barbaric Pteri-like bird swooped down on Kit and grabbed her with one of its large feet. Held in its other foot was a purple Yurble who was shaking with fright. Kit screamed. The bird then flew high above the village and up toward the forbidden mountain.

     * * *

     Flick's first night in the wilderness alone was awful. He was so miserable that even the most miserable pet on Neopia's misery wouldn't match his. He didn't manage to get a fire going, he couldn't find any food, and the small wooden lean-to that he made was cramped. And when it started to rain, the roof leaked. Flick sat wet, cramped, and cold for hours, not getting any sleep at all.

     As soon as the sun began to creep up over the horizon, Flick left his shelter. He immediately knew that he had to get back into the tribe somehow. But Drako was very strict about who could join. You could only get in by one of two ways; being born into the tribe or accomplishing a great feat for the tribe's people. Since he couldn't get back in through the first option, he'd have to do something heroic.

     Flick sat for hours thinking about what he could do. He wasn't the adventuring type. He preferred to spend his afternoons reading a book than exploring the forest or saving pets. He also didn't know anything about combat or anything else that adventurers do.

     Flick suddenly had an idea, one that wouldn't involve too much combat. He could rescue the kidnapped Yurbles! Since he was no longer a tribe member, the mountain was no longer forbidden. But, thought Flick, I'm going to need to boost my endurance and find a weapon.

     Flick decided that a bow would be the best weapon for him, and he remembered reading a book about how to make them. He scavenged around the dump where the tribe put their unwanted belongings until he found a knife and a string of leather for a bowstring. Flick then found a reasonably sized stick for a Yurble and smoothed down the edges with his knife. He then attached the leather string. It wasn't the best bow in the world, but at least it would protect him He then made a quiver out of more leather that he found and cut sticks into arrow shafts. He attached stone heads to the arrows and placed them in his quiver.

     "See," said Flick to no one. "Reading books does pay off."

     Flick's stomach growled. He had just realized that he hadn't eaten anything in over a day. He began to wander through the forest with his new bow and quiver across his back looking for food. He found some berries on a bush. He was careful to look for grey ones as he picked them. They tasted badly, but it was some nourishment.

     Over the next few days, Flick's wilderness survival skills improved. He was able to build fires and find food, but despite his efforts he still couldn't stop the water from leaking through the roofs of his shelters. Flick went running every morning to build up his endurance. After a couple weeks of living like this, Flick decided he was ready to take on the mountain.

     Flick couldn't have picked a worse day to begin his adventure. It was sweltering hot. He had only been climbing for about fifteen minutes before he was soaked in sweat. But Flick didn't give up, even when he lost his footing and only held on to a near vertical drop by a finger. By the time he had reached the summit, it was nearly dark.

     On the summit of the mountain was a giant nest. Inside the nest was a large yellowish Pteri-like bird. It was currently sleeping at the moment, but Flick knew that once the sun was completely down the bird would awaken and fly off to find another victim.

     Flick tried to lay as flat as he could among the rock. His grey fur helped him blend in well. He waited. Finally once the last rays of sun had disappeared, the bird woke. It gave a loud squawk before spreading its wings and took flight. Flick waited till it was out of sight to make his move.

     Flick ran over to the nest and heaved himself up and over the side. He landed on a soft bed of large sticks and bird feathers. He looked around. The nest was huge. Feathers were everywhere. Flick looked around for anything that was out of place. He looked to his left, then right. On the west side of the nest were five pets. Three out of the five were Yurbles. The other two were Island Kougras, apparently kidnapped from a nearby village. All of them were either asleep or laying on the ground staring into space.

     Flick ran over to them wondering why the awake pets didn't run to him. He soon found out why. As he approached the pets, a nasty smell hit him in the face, making him want to pass out. Flick, fighting to stay conscious, dragged a sleeping orange Yurble away from the smell. He heaved the Yurble over the side of the nest and began to take deep breaths, savoring the fresh air. After the black dots around his vision went away, he ran back for the rest of the pets. After he had rescued the other four, he heaved himself back over the side of the nest. The sleeping pets that had probably passed out because of the smell were awake now.

     "What happened?" said a Purple Yurble weakly.

     "You were kidnapped by a giant bird of some sort," said Flick. "I rescued you. Most of you passed out from a very nasty smell that I can't explain. We should all try and get down the mountain before the bird comes back."

     Too late. A giant screech roared through the air the bird came swooping back to its nest, a new victim in its talons.

     "Go!" shouted Flick, drawing out his bow. "I'll hold it off!"

     As the captive began to make their descent down the mountain, Flick shot an arrow at the bird. It hit its wing. The bird paid no attention to the arrow and continued to go after Flick. He jumped out of the way of its sharp beak. He did a belly-smacker on the ground before getting up slightly shaken and firing another arrow. That one missed altogether.

     Flick kept moving and firing arrows. After a while, he began to get desperate. His quiver was emptying fast, and the bird showed no sign of tiring. He was almost ready to collapse when he noticed a rock on the ground. A perfect throwing stone. He picked it up and chucked it at the bird. It wasn't expecting it and it hit it square between the eyes. During the moments that it was confused, Flick drew out his last arrow. He aimed it for the bird's heart, and let it fly.

     It hit it square on.

     The bird swayed back and forth a little before falling to the ground. Its new victim was a fire Yurble, who ran away from the bird as fast as he could. He ran over to Flick, and Flick couldn't believe his eyes. The Yurble was Drako!

     Drako got down on his knees and looked up at Flick. "Thank you for sav- whoa!" He then realized who the grey Yurble was. "Flick! But how…how…how did you kill that thing?"

     As Drako got back up and stood speechless, Flick seized the opportunity. "Lord Drako, I have done a favor for you and the tribe. All I ask in return is for re-admittance to the tribe. All I wish is to go back to my old life."

     "Sure, Flick," said Drako, looking at the bird and then Flick. He removed Flick's banishment rope and threw it on the ground. "Anything you ask. I'll even buy you a starry paintbrush if you want."

     "I don't want to change back to starry," said Flick. "You see, being grey doesn't mean you have no pride in yourself. It's just a fancy color. A royal Neopet could have no pride in himself, and a grey one could. Color doesn't matter."

     "Okay, if that's what you want," said Drako with a shrug as the two began to climb back down the mountain.

     Epilogue: Flick was accepted back into the village for his deed. Although some Yurbles disrespect him, most look up to him for what he did. He and Hedge are still friends. Hedge forgave Flick for suspecting him of ratting him out. Flick and Hedge still pick berries together, although Flick vowed to never eat another one again. Nobody has yet beaten his berry picking record.

The End

Author's Note: Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome!

 
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