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Searching for a Miracle


by sparkly_fairy_dust

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Raono, the blue Lupe doctor, leaned over his patient and gently prodded her. The patient was a small striped Shoyru, and was obviously seriously ill. She shook with every poke of the cold metal doctor's devices, and her normally vibrant stripes were washed out and dull.

     Raono stood up and adjusted his white coat.

     "Raono, what's the verdict?" A pink Kougra stopped pacing the room and rushed over to where the doctor stood. She was trembling with anticipation of the doctor's diagnosis.

     "Taellie, I'm not going to lie to you. It doesn't look good." Raono's expression was grave.

     "Well what does that mean? If it's a money issue … I can go to the bank … I have lots of neopoints, I promise…" Taellie trailed off pathetically.

     "It's not a money issue. I would cure Lorelle for free if I could, you know that. She's a very sick Shoyru; I've never seen such an extreme case of Neomonia. I don't think that she will survive much longer than a month." Raono bit his lip.

     "No, please, doctor--" Taellie burst into floods of uncontrollable hiccupping sobs. "Please, there must be something you can do!"

     "Taellie, no … no there isn't." Raono wished he had a miracle cure to help Lorelle. A miracle cure? A miracle cure…?

     "Doctor, she's my best friend in the world as well as my sister--" Taellie's fur was tangled with tears but she forced out a last appeal.

     "Well, there is one thing. A miracle cure you might call it," Raono said slowly, knowing that his boss would fire him on the spot if he knew he was letting out this information.

     "Raono, I knew you wouldn't let Lorelle die. What is it? What?" Taellie's paw grabbed Raono's coat.

     "No! No, I can't tell you. I can't do it. I shouldn't have said anything!" The distressed Lupe shook his head furiously, angry with himself. How could he have given a client false hope? How could he have suggested something so preposterous?

     "Raono … I know there's something. I know it. I saw your eyes light up when you thought of it. You want Lorelle to live as much as I do. Tell me… please. We can deal with the consequences after," Taellie begged. The Kougra knelt at her sister's head, stroking the shivering Shoyru. Lorelle's wings were folded pathetically underneath her, but gave a faint flutter of recognition as Taellie whispered encouraging words in her ear.

     "Well…" Raono knew he had to tell Taellie. He just hoped that nobody else would find out. "There's a legend … a myth … in the very depths of Mystery Island, in a large and overgrown forest, lays a magical Uni. She is pure white; whiter that newly fallen snow, whiter than spring's first lilies, whiter than anything you could possibly imagine. Dazzling white! This Uni has extreme power, pure concentrated good magic that has greater healing qualities than the faerie that tends the Healing Springs. The story goes that this Uni can cure any illness … any disease … with just one tear."

     Taellie gasped. Could such a story be true? "I have to go! I have to see this Uni. Anything to help Lorelle."

     "Taellie, think about this! Please. This would be the most dangerous journey anyone ever embarked upon. It's more treacherous than climbing Terror Mountain! You would be mad to go upon it. You may not come out alive." Raono reasoned with the Kougra.

     "I would come out alive. I would. And I would bring back a Uni tear to save Lorelle as well." Taellie's kind face spread into a wide grin - the first she had smiled since her sister became ill. "I'm going to do it."

     ****

     "Lorelle, I will be back. I promise." Taellie leaned over her sister, crying silently. "Just keep strong until I come back home."

     Taellie's friend dragged her away.

     "We must go now while it's early," the red Gelert said. His name was Barrag and he was a world renowned sports extremist. He climbed mountains, he jumped off them … you name it and Barrag's done it!

     Taellie and Barrag set off, leaving sunny safe Neopia Central far behind them and heading towards Mystery Island. The pink Kougra had decided it best to only bring one friend to help her - it wouldn't be fair to place any other loved ones in danger. Barrag was eager for the adventure; he loved a challenge and had a soft spot for the lovely Lorelle. The pair heaved heavy back packs through many types of terrain until they finally reached the boat that would take them to their destination at midday.

     "It's been tough so far and we haven't even arrived. Prepare yourself, Taellie. We only have a few hours of rest until the boat reaches Mystery Island. Once we get there we will set up camp and then start travelling to the forest at first light," Barrag said, checking if he had remembered his compass. Taellie nodded as she bit into a tigersquash sandwich. Her limbs ached from such intense walking and her head felt woozy from the heat, but she was raring to go. The sooner they reached the forest the sooner her sister would be well again.

     ****

     Taellie opened her eyes as sunlight filtered through the gaps in the top of her tent. Morning had arrived and the atmosphere was full of nervous expectation.

     "Taellie? Are you ready?" Barrag called out. The pink Kougra stretched her stiff legs and trotted out of the tent, her keen nose following the scent of sizzling sausages. She sat down next to Barrag as he tended the camp fire.

     It wasn't long before the sausages had been devoured and it was time to set off. It took about 2 hours to reach the edge of the forest. Tall winding tree trunks with strong buttress roots towered above them, blocking out even the brightest rays of sunlight. As the pair stepped into the cool shade of the trees, they were engulfed in darkness. Taellie hadn't thought that the forest would be so dense.

     "Which way now, Barrag?" Taellie asked, flicking the switch of her torch.

     "North-west…" Barrag squinted at his compass. "We're heading towards the very center of the forest."

     Taellie fumbled for Barrag's hand, shining a trembling beam of light at the path before them. It was obvious that the path hadn't been used in a long while, for it was overgrown with all kinds of tropical plants.

     "Just be careful where you step. You don't want to anger anything!" Barrag warned his companion.

     It seemed to Taellie that they had been walking for hours. Every tree looked the same, and even the bright exotic flowers that would usually interest her were dull and repetitive. All that was on her mind was the thought of finding the magical Uni and saving her sister. Lorelle - oh how she hoped Lorelle was still hanging on.

     "Watch out!" Barrag suddenly grabbed Taellie and dragged her firmly behind one of the large leafy trees. Taellie directed a puzzled look towards the red Gelert. He was shaking with fear and silently pointed at a clearing just ahead of them where a large Kougra was pacing. He was extremely large, at least 4 times bigger than Taellie, and had a wild ruggedness about him. His brown fur was thick and wiry unlike Taellie's smooth silken coat, and his teeth were protruding and yellow. A large patch of his long fur was stuck upwards in sticky spikes, where an ominous thick substance had splattered.

     "Barrag … what should we do? I've never seen one of my own so large and menacing." Taellie whispered in a voice that was barely audible. Barrag shrugged. He had come upon many a scary beast in his travels, but none as immense as this. He thought for a long while, and eventually signalled to Taellie that he had a plan.

     Barrag noiselessly slipped from behind the tree as he motioned for his friend to stay put. Searching in the undergrowth he soon returned with a couple of large rocks. The Gelert pulled his slingshot out of his backpack and fastened the rock to it.

     "If these shots don't work, the Kougra will pursue us," Barrag told Taellie. "If he does, run … don't wait for me. We must promise that if something happens to one of us the other will carry on … for Lorelle's sake."

     Tears welled up in Taellie's eyes. She didn't know if she would have enough strength without Barrag. But … "For Lorelle's sake," she promised.

     Barrag pulled back the elastic on his slingshot with a quivering paw. Please, Taellie silently prayed, please let Barrag shoot the Kougra successfully.

     *Ping*

     Barrag let out the shot, and the rock flew into the air … and landed a few feet off its intended target. The Kougra spun around, looking for the source of the attack. He opened his mouth and let out a ferocious growl. Barrag wasted no time shooting again. Please, please, for Lorelle, Taellie prayed. The rock flew into the air … heading towards the bemused Kougra … circling in what seemed slow motion … and … bang! … it landed on the Kougra's head!

     "Yes!" Barrag celebrated as the enemy stumbled among the prickly plants and finally landed with a thump on the dusty ground.

     Barrag took Taellie's hand and led her around the large animal. They walked quickly, so as to get as far away from the Kougra as possible before it woke up.

     The further they got into the forest, the harder it was to tell what time of the day it was. The foliage was so dense it blocked out every ounce of sunlight. Thankfully, Taellie had brought her watch. At about nine o' clock they decided it was time to sleep for the night. Barrag set up their tents in the shelter of some thick branches.

     "We don't know what dangers are about," he said, "so one of us will always have to be on guard. I shall go first."

     So while Taellie slept deeply, dreaming of two-headed wild Kougras and magical Unis, Barrag wrapped himself in his warmest furs and kept lookout. Once his allocated time had ran out, he unzipped the tent to wake his exploring partner. But seeing Taellie so peaceful and knowing how exhausted she was, he couldn't bear to disturb her slumber. Instead, Barrag decided he would stay on guard the whole night. Besides, he wasn't feeling in the slightest bit tired! The night-watch ran without a hitch, and soon it was morning. Taellie stirred and crept out of the tent sleepy-eyed.

     "Barrag! Why didn't you wake me?" she asked in a thick voice.

     "I wasn't tired … why should I wake you when I wouldn't have been able to sleep myself?" Barrag answered.

     "You will be knackered today. I feel awful, Barrag!" Taellie grumbled.

     "Don't. It was my choice. Come on, hurry up - breakfast is ready and I've got a steaming cup of borovan here with your name on it!" Barrag smiled and tried to redeem the cheery atmosphere. Taellie gave in and warmed her hands on the mug.

     "How many days more travelling?" Taellie asked Barrag.

     "I don't know, I really don't. I've never been here before … no explorers have. It's too dangerous. I would guess - about five days?" Barrag shrugged his backpack on and stamped out the smouldering fire. "Let's go."

     The deeper into the forest the pair got, the more fascinating things they saw. Flowers they were sure hadn't been discovered before - amazing petpets that definitely weren't for sale in Neopia Central - and tasty fruits that satisfied their appetites. Taellie even began to doubt the numerous danger warnings she had been given. Since the Kougra incident they hadn't encountered anything else to put their lives in jeopardy.

     "Come and see what I've found!" Taellie called to Barrag, kneeling over a patch of acid-green fruits.

     "Ooooh, very nice," Barrag commented.

     "Shall we try some?" Taellie eagerly plucked one of the oval fruits from their stems.

     "I don't know - what if they're poisonous?" Barrag looked nervous.

     "Oh, don't be silly. We've tried lots of fruits already and none of them have been harmful."

     "I know, but that's because I recognised them as being similar to fruits we have on sale in Mystery Island shops. And I could tell by footprints and disturbances that other Neopets had been feasting on them. These fruits look untouched." Barrag was right - the area around the acid fruits was in pristine condition.

     Taellie rolled her eyes and sighed. "I'm hungry, I'm eating one!" she declared recklessly, taking an enormous bite out of the fruit. "It's lovely, Barrag - try one. Yummy. And look - I'm fine … it wasn't poisonous." Barrag sighed and shook his head. He was ravenous, and the fruit looked delicious, but it was just too risky. If there was one thing that he had learned from being an extremist, it was to trust his instincts. And his instincts didn't agree with his rumbling stomach.

     It was hours later, and Barrag was foraging through some particularly stubborn branches when Taellie started to feel off-colour.

     "B-B-Barrag, I f-feel cold-d-d!" She trembled one minute and - "Barrag, is it just me or is it hot?" she asked feverishly the next.

     "Taellie, I think you're sick!" was Barrag's analysis. "It must have been those berries. Oh dear me!"

     "I'm s-s-s-sorry," (Taellie was feeling cold again) "f-for not tr-trusting you ab-b-bout the f-fruit."

     "No apology needed." Barrag laid his friend down. "I don't think it's going to be serious. You just need to sweat it out and drink lots of fluids. You will be fine. Some of these exotic flowers have healing properties … nothing good enough to save Lorelle but they will do for a mild poison like yours. Only thing is, it will set us back a couple of days." Taellie wept in a delirious state. She couldn't believe her foolish actions had put her sister's life in danger. What if they didn't get back in time and it was her fault?

     ****

     It was three full days until Taellie was ready to travel again. It had taken intense nurturing from Barrag to pull her through - his knowledge of the local exotic healers saved the Kougra's life. Taellie was eternally grateful and also more paranoid - she was scared to do anything without her friend's approval.

     "Taellie, we are nearing the heart of the forest!" Barrag told Taellie in a state of excitement later that day. The foliage had become so impenetrable that he was certain of his prediction. They might even reach it by the next day!

     "We're also nearing the most dangerous creatures…" Taellie's eyes shone with fear as she showed Barrag the immense Cobrall that was wandering around the forest floor. It was much bigger than a usual petpet (she couldn't help comparing it with her friend Wilma's pathetic 20cm long Cobrall that she bought from the local petpet shop) at a staggering 2 foot long. Its skin was bright sickening yellow with zingy orange stripes. The Cobrall's fangs were large, soaked with a poison much more dangerous than that of the acid-green fruits, and its sinewy shape looked like it could crush Taellie in a single effortless squeeze.

     "It's like the Kougra all over again!" Barrag looked shocked, "I never knew Neopets were bred this large … imagine trying to sell that Cobrall in a shop. You would need about 4 cages."

     Taellie felt a fit of frightened giggles coming upon her; "Ssshh - no time for jokes. What do we do?"

     Luckily their problem was solved as the Cobrall sensed a flicker of movement in the tree above him and slyly slithered up the wide trunk.

     "Keep your eyes open," Barrag said. "This place must be littered with creatures like that. A plethora of Kougra-crushing Cobralls."

     The explorers soon decided they couldn't carry on any more. They were much too exhausted. There limbs throbbed and twinged from all the ploughing through intense plants. They were nearly at their destination but desperately needed a rest first.

     However much she wanted to sleep, Taellie found that shutting her eyes was impossible. All she could think about was the possibility that the next day they might find the magical Uni. How amazing would that be? They could save Lorelle! The anticipation plagued her until the early hours until she finally slipped into a disturbed snooze.

     Morning came soon enough. The sky rose high in the sky, and although none of it penetrated through the thick shrubbery of the forest, Taellie sensed that daybreak had arrived and struggled awake. Barrag was raring to go, shovelling breakfast down his friend's throat and hurriedly stuffing their belongings into their backpacks.

     "Taellie, quick … quick … hurry, Taellie!" Barrag muttered constantly. He was about to go where no explorer had ever gone before!

     ****

     And so they set off, travelling for 2 hours until they reached the place that Barrag believed to be the very center of the forest.

     "If my calculations are correct, the magical Uni's lair should be behind these very trees."

     Taellie smiled, hope radiating from her. She checked that she had all of her glass phials safely stowed away in her pockets. She prayed that it wouldn't be too hard to get a tear for Lorelle. Barrag's tense paw stretched forwards to the leafy canopy separating them from the heart of the forest. Taellie started to breathe deeply - this is what we've been waiting for, she thought - and the tension rose until it was tickling the back of her throat.

     "Do it," she whispered to her friend; this was a much too majestic occasion for raised voices! Barrag closed his eyes … and whipped back the leaves.

     The pair tip-toed into a gorgeous clearing. Taellie and Barrag couldn't believe their eyes. All around them blossomed beautiful flowers, ones much more exotic than the others in the forest that had previously amazed them. The trees here were taller and grander than all of the other trees in the forest put together: they had rich chocolate brown trunks and wide emerald green leaves. A faint trickling noise found its way into their ears - Taellie's eyes searched until she spotted the source of the ethereal sound; it was a tranquil stream weaving its way in between the many flourishing plants. Taking all this in was too much for Taellie; she had to lean on her friend for support, eyes open wide the whole time. Barrag too was awe-struck by such exquisite surroundings. He had always imagined visiting such a place but never thought he would have the chance. It was more astonishing than it had been in his dreams; every leaf and flower was literally dripping with magic … the air was filled with enchantment.

     "Barrag…" Taellie finally breathed after several minutes, "Where is the Uni?"

     Barrag frowned (an expression that seemed like it should be illegal in such a dazzling place) and was saddened to find that it was nowhere around.

     "I don't know, Tael-" The words were half way out of his mouth when he sighted it, half concealed by a magnificent purple-flowered bush. Taellie followed his eyes and saw it too … a divine feminine Uni lying on her side only a few feet away from where the weary pink Kougra stood.

     The Uni was draped elegantly on the forest floor, a pure-white shimmering sensation. Her hooves were a sparkling gold, as was the enormous horn protruding from in between her delicate ears. Her mane and tail were creamy-white, flecked with silver. When she tossed her fine head the creamy hair was tinged with a shimmering pink. The most mesmerizing things about the Uni were her glittering eyes … a gorgeous shade of the palest blue, and glistening with magic. The Uni seemed to note her visitors for the first time, and she rose effortlessly to her hooves. She was bigger (like most things in this forest) than the Unis Barrag and Taellie were used to.

     The Uni walked over to the pair with a graceful movement that oozed with natural rhythm. She raised her head and then lowered it again, silently acknowledging that she had company. Taellie lurched into an awkward curtsy and Barrag bowed stiffly. Taellie wished that words would come to her - but what does one say to a creature so powerful? To a Neopet so mighty, so full of good? To something so beautiful and with such a deep concentrate of magic running through her veins? In the end it was Barrag who forced out the first words.

     "Charmed one, g-great one, p-please … we need your h-help."

     The Uni tilted her head in a questioning sort of way. Barrag took this unspoken gesture as a request to carry on … but it wasn't his plea. It was Taellie's story, Taellie's sister - Taellie who must do the talking.

     And so she did. The Kougra began at the sensible place: the beginning. She told this mysterious Uni of her sister's serious case of Neomonia, and her perilous journey with Barrag to the heart of this spiritual Mystery Island forest. The tale took a long time and a lot of tissues. Telling the painful story of Lorelle was a heart-wrenching time for Taellie. She just hoped it was enough.

     The Uni closed her scintillating eyes gently once the narrative was over. Taellie could tell she didn't help just anyone - no matter how far they had travelled. The pink Kougra was wiser now; she knew that however desperate someone was the Uni wouldn't help unless she was meant to. Maybe it was that Neopet's time to go … maybe that Neopet's destiny was up … but not Lorelle's. Not sweet kind intelligent Lorelle. Taellie was sure of it.

     And the Uni was sure of it too. Taellie lifted one of the glass phials to the Uni's glossy face and watched as a single crystal tear fell from her eye and landed with a soft tinkle in the phial.

     Lorelle was going to be all right.

The End

 
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