Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 151,901,457 Issue: 213 | 20th day of Collecting, Y7
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Lack of Inspiration


by hmlanden

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Lisa sighed angrily and flung the sparkly red paint across the room. The faint sunlight shining down through the narrow window of her underground home reflected off the glitter in the paint, reflecting in her sad blue eyes.

      The white Bori kicked the easel away and fled the small cavern. After all that hard work, she'd made one bad stroke and ruined it all: the best thing she'd ever painted, a surprise for the Keeper of Time.

      For years she had lived in this cave off the main caverns where most of the Boris lived. She had a few loyal friends who still dared to visit the constantly frustrated artist, and the Keeper of Time occasionally got off his throne and talked to her.

      The world she couldn't see was her inspiration. Imagination was her sketchbook, and paint was merely her way of having a permanent record of things, but her originality was fading. For years she'd had a good market for her paintings, for their imagination was something rarely seen in Neopian markets then. But now, many much better artists were copying her style, and she was losing. Losing to a better, younger generation.

      She charged past the guards at the mouth of her cavern, scattering them with the shock of her frustration. Crowds of Boris of all colors parted for her. Her eyes swam in floods of tears, mixing together colors: red, green, silver, yellow, blue, and brown, in a kaleidoscope of perfection unlike anything ever achieved by any Neopian painter. Saddened by her thoughts, she fled the caverns completely and ran out into the snow.

      Hours later, Lisa found herself sitting at the foot of Terror Mountain, looking out over the northland forests toward Meridell and Neopia Central. Maybe it was time for a fresh start in something. All her life had been spent in the Ice Caves or in deep dark pits where her imagination could run wild, undisturbed by the rest of the world. Perhaps it was time to get a little light in her life.

      Lisa got up from the cold grey boulder she had been sitting on for the past few hours. Legs and back aching, she knew she couldn't go back for her things. She needed to start over, get everything new. That, and there was no way she was going to walk all the way back to the caverns. At least not today.

      Her black claws gripped the smooth stone with ease as she made her way down from the final stretch of Terror Mountain. The forest spread out before her like an endless sea of green, an unconquerable foe. She'd heard tales from many a Bori who went out adventuring about wild Lupe packs, treacherous poachers, and many other dangers that lurked in the shadows of these woods. Lisa had no food, water, or weapons. She didn't know where she was going, and she didn't know what she'd find out there, but in all honesty, she didn't care. Perhaps a little adventure was all she needed to find her inspiration again.

      She discovered a narrow path at the edge of the trees and followed it carefully, making as little noise as possible with her clumsy claws. The wind through the trees wasn't as bitterly cold as it was on the mountain, but it had a bite unlike anything she'd ever felt before. The sunset was completely blocked out; little light filtered in through the thick trees. The faint chirping of birds somewhere to the north only made the silence more oppressive.

      Suddenly, a howl sliced through the forest. Lisa leapt off the path and into the brush. Fear overtook her every sense as more howls came from all around her. Thorns tore at her muddy fur. Her claws scraped over sharp rocks and scattered leaves everywhere. Suddenly, a forest green Lupe appeared behind her, a fierce snarl springing from his throat, his gleaming white teeth bared in a way that was definitely not friendly.

      Lisa whimpered and ran harder. Her heart pounded. Exhaustion rushed through her. Just then, the brush ended. A sheer cliff rose up before her feet. She let out a shriek and tried desperately to grab something but to no avail. Lisa tumbled off the cliff, screaming. As she fell, she almost thought she could see the Lupe watching her with horror in his jade-green eyes.

      Blackness.

      Lisa's eyes fluttered open. She lay on a bed of jagged rocks, but she was not bleeding. Her greatest hurt was half a dozen blackening bruises on her back. Plus two wrenched ankles. She groaned and tried to sit up. If only she could get off these rocks….the pain might be less. But no, she couldn't move.

      To distract herself, she thought of what colors she would be right then. Red, perhaps, for the pain. Purple and black for the bruises. A glob of mud fell from her ear. Of course, brown for the mud. How colorful she felt right then! She had never had such a wide variety before. It was normally red for anger, blue for peace, yellow for discontent, but never had she had more than one overall theme in a picture. Perhaps this journey was already doing her good.

      She closed her eyes and tried to imagine what she would look like. It wasn't a very pretty sight, but it was good for a laugh. A dazed, mud-coated, bedraggled Bori lying in a bed of sharp gray rocks with black-purple bruises in a clearing of a forest of thick pine trees. Ah, that would make an interesting picture. She could call it…End of the Chase. Hmm... not bad, but she would have more time to work on it.

      A cold nose jabbing her cheek broke off her thoughts. At least, I hope I'll have more time. Her eyes fluttered open and looked straight into a familiar pair of jade-green eyes.

      "Shh, don't say anything," the Lupe whispered in a lilting voice, heavily accented. "I'm here to help you hide."

      "Fr.." A furry paw clasped her mouth shut. The Lupe whistled softly, and two other Lupes emerged from the brush. One was a rich dark brown, like the color of earth. The other was blacker than a starless night with eyes of silver. Both eyed the forest green Lupe in wonder but carried her into the bushes without complaint.

      Hours later, they set her down inside a cave. They had backtracked along many trails, struggled through thick brush and trees, across streams, under waterfalls, and through a maze of caverns to bring her out on the west side of a jagged hill. They had no fire going, but the bed of leaves and pine boughs Lisa slept in was warm and comfortable. For awhile, the three Lupes sat silently, staring deep into each other's eyes. Then, after the sun had completely set, they drew the bed of pine boughs, Lisa still on it, behind a cluster of rocks and vanished back into the tunnels.

      Lisa knew nothing of this, for she'd fallen asleep maybe two hours into the journey. Unconscious was a wave of peace she welcomed after narrowly escaping death. She slept dreamlessly and made no sound.

      The next morning, she woke up feeling more refreshed than she ever had before. Golden red sunlight streamed in from outside the small niche where she lay. Lisa crawled out and, stretching her sore and bruised muscles, crept to the entrance.

      The light didn't come in directly, and the shadows fell outside the entrance, so Lisa knew she was on the west side of something large. Perhaps a mountain, maybe a hill. The Lupes were gone and had left her nothing to eat, and her stomach was complaining bitterly, so she sneaked from the tunnel and into the brush.

      A bush not far from the cavern's mouth offered some delicious berries, which she ate most of, and a fresh water spring refreshed her thirst. Unknowingly, her steps led her farther and farther away from the cave and deeper into the trees. By the time she realized her mistake, Lisa was far from the cave in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by howls. She sprang into one of the nearest trees and scrambled as high as possible through the thick branches. At least a dozen Lupes, with shades varying from a ruby red to a brilliant silver, pale blues and bright yellows, surrounded the base of the tree, snarling angrily.

      She could tell that these were the same Lupes from the last chase, for their growls were actually a quite pleasant mixing of high and low pitches. Well, being pleasant musically was one of their better qualities.

      Lisa sighed and climbed higher, digging her thick claws into the tree. Birds scattered as she came upon them, and the wind grew stronger the higher she struggled. The howling grew fainter and fainter until she got to the tree top. The branches beyond her would break if she stepped on them.

      She looked back down and saw the Lupes casually waiting at the foot of the tree. Since they were clearly going nowhere, Lisa decided to get moving. Pivoting around from the thickest tree branch she could find, she swung around to the opposite side of the tree and carefully jumped into the next pine. She went along like this through thick pine needles and branches undisturbed for a few moments before the Lupe pack noted her absence and smelled her direction on the wind. With a fresh chorus of snarls, they charged into the forest.

      Lisa heard them and started running. She was lower in the tree now and deeper into the forest than anyone had been in many years, and the branches had grown so thick and large that they'd woven together to form a sort of flooring twenty feet off the ground. She sprang across gaps and charged blindly across the floor. Branches snapped under her as she ran, her heart pounding so loud she thought the Lupes would hear it. Her breath came in short gasps; her aching back returned to haunt her.

      Suddenly, she noticed a stream of light coming in from ahead. Lisa renewed her hopes and pressed on. The floor abruptly ended, and she tumbled onto... sand? What was this? Lisa leapt to her feet and stood stonily for a few seconds. She wasn't in the trees anymore. She was on a beach by a sparkling sea. Across it, she could clearly see Brightvale Castle, and in the distance, Meridell. She'd made it through.

      Hot breath on her heels reminded her instantly of where she was. She took off like a shot and dove into the water. The first thing she discovered about water was that Boris couldn't swim very well; it was impossible to paddle with claws. She came back up sputtering and clinging to a log. Her hind legs, fortunately, were strong, and soon she was heading for the opposite side of the channel.

      Lisa glanced back for a moment and saw the Lupes congregating on the beach. A fire Lupe came striding out of the woods and saw her watching. He smiled thinly and saluted her, a tribute to her bravery and escape. She saluted him back and was about to turn away when she saw a forest green Lupe with jade-green eyes silently step up beside the fiery alpha. He waved and smiled; she returned the kind gesture.

      Turning away, she paddled on. The channel wasn't too wide. She should reach Brightvale by nightfall. But for some reason, she had a feeling that those jade-green eyes would haunt her no matter where she went in Neopia. And strangely, she didn't think she'd mind.

      Escape is cliché in a way that no one can truly understand the joy of it.

The End

 
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