Once Upon a Christmas Morning
Signs of Christmastime were as apparent in Happy Valley
as the snow. Tinsel and holly clung to the rooftops of nearly every cheery abode.
Wreaths appeared on front doors, on windows, on street corners and on signs. Soft
white candles glowed in the windowsills at nighttime. Christmas trees began popping
up inside and outside of homes. The annual Happy Valley Christmas Tree had been
set up, and the townspeople had begun the annual ritual of decorating it with
glassy ornaments as big as their heads. The Christmas Nova had been chosen and
placed at its peak. The town hall was so heavily clad in tinsel and surrounded
in Christmas cheer it more closely resembled a giant mound of rustling silver,
in which pets frantically scurried in and out. The mayor had made several public
announcements about the approaching Christmas and everyone was excited. And they
had every reason to be.
It was Christmastime!
Lorelei was no exception. The young, sapphire-eyed
white Acara could never be seen without a whistle on her lips, a skip in her
stride, and a merry twinkle in her eye. Every waking moment was spent counting
the presents at the base of the tree, seeing if the number had changed since
she'd last checked, or baking cookies, or setting up wreaths or more ornaments.
Her bedroom was a glistening Christmas-town; tinsel hung from every wall, her
shelves and dressers were bedecked in holly, and a miniature Christmas Fir was
placed on her desktop, laden with ornaments. Candles were set upon every windowsill
of the home; of that, Lorelei had made sure. Her mother and father never fully
understood their daughter's enthusiasm, but as long as she was happy, they were
When Lorelei awoke on Christmas Eve, she burst
from her bed in a frenzy, shrieking at the top of her lungs. "It's Christmas
Eve!" she warbled, throwing open the curtains. "And it's snowing!" She threw
on her faux fur coat and dashed out into the hallway, bypassing her mother,
who was standing with a plate of pancakes in hand.
"No breakfast?" her mother asked quizzically,
sighed, and set the plate down on the counter.
Lorelei had not heard her; she was already outside,
leaping from snowdrift to snowdrift, belting out her joy in the most musical
form. Her lovely alto voice had always kept her company, especially throughout
this merriest of seasons. She made Snow Faeries in the snow, did a dance around
the Happy Valley Christmas Tree, leapt for joy several more times, and then
burst back inside her house.
"Good morning, Lorelei. You forgot your breakfast."
"Whoops, sorry, Mom. I couldn't help it -- it's
"Yes, of course, Lorelei. But I need you to do
something for me, honey."
"I need you to go pick some snowberries for your
grandmother's snowberry soup. You know that she can't go out and pick them on
her own, and she really wants to make a couple bowls for the Annual Christmas
Eve Feast at the Town Hall tonight…"
"Of course, Mom. That's not even a question."
Lorelei laughed as she shoveled more pancake into her mouth. She finished quickly,
licked the syrup from her lips, and dashed outside.
"You forgot the basket!" her mother called. Lorelei
dashed back in, retrieved the basket, and then happily strolled in the direction
of the snowberry patch. Her mother only smiled.
Lorelei could not help but sing as she skipped
towards the bushes. She could already see the icy white berries, plump on the
branches of the bushes, their fragrant perfume carrying over to her on the snowy
winds. Oh, how she loved snowberries. Their taste was exquisite in any form;
snowberry soup was one of her favorite dishes, and an old family recipe. It
was her grandmother's passion to make a bowl for the Annual Christmas Eve Feast
and she received nothing but compliments for her cooking.
Humming pleasantly to herself as she neared the
snowberry bush, Lorelei did not see the frozen eyes staring up at her from beneath
a neighboring bush. She did not notice them as she plucked some berries from
the branch and tossed them into her basket, nor did she see them any other time
she whirled around to pluck some more off from the bush.
She noticed them when she turned to move to the
next bush and they took her completely off-guard. She gasped, but did not scream,
and remained calm. Two glassy eyes were staring up at her, the face upon which
they originated obscured by the snowberry branches. She stared inquisitively
at the eyes, wondering what they could belong to -- they were so mesmerizing,
like liquid flames, like sapphires of indescribable quality and brilliance.
Before she knew it, she was suddenly on the ground,
a quite feisty creature perched upon her chest, staring deeply into her own
It was a Snowickle.
Lorelei didn't know what to do, and so remained
motionless. The Snowickle stared at her curiously for a moment, and then crawled
nearer to her face. Lorelei felt her eyes water as the cold stung at them, and
let out a gasping breath. The Snowickle ignored this and stood upon her collarbone,
staring into her eyes. It bent over, and Lorelei felt a cold, faint, tickling
sensation upon her chin. She giggled instinctively; the Snowickle was licking
Seconds later it had pounced onto the ground
and had landed in her basket. "Aren't you a friendly little fellow," Lorelei
announced, patting its head amiably. "I'm Lorelei. Who are you? Are you lost,
little Snowickle?" The Snowickle said nothing, and only stared up at her with
its diamond eyes, those mesmerizing eyes.
"I don't want to leave you here in the cold…
I think I'll take you home. I've got enough berries here for Grandmother's snowberry
soup, in any case. Just don't crush any of the berries, little Snowickle. I'll
tell you what: if you don't crush a single berry, I'll let you have some leftover
Although she knew it couldn't understand her,
or at least Lorelei expected as much, the Snowickle gave a quick nod and leapt
onto her shoulder, which it clung to comfortably. Not a single berry had been
squashed in the leap. Impressed, Lorelei trotted on.
"You should taste some of her soup. It's simply
delicious. No word can describe it…" Lorelei continued talking of her grandmother,
of snowberry soup, of Christmas, and of the Annual Christmas Eve Feast until
she reached her front doorstep.
"Mother, I'm home!" Lorelei declared as she stepped
inside, stepping out of her boots. She began shrugging off her coat; the Snowickle
lunged to the ground, where it stayed, staring up at her expectantly. Grabbing
her basket of snowberries, Lorelei headed towards the kitchen.
"I'm right in here, Lorelei… Just set the snowberries
on the counter, dear. If you're wondering, that's the smell of -- WHAT IN THE
NAME OF FYORA IS THAT?!"
Her mother loosed an ear-splitting screech, nearly
dropping her asparagus casserole. Lorelei stared at her mother in shock for
a moment, equally as taken aback; the Snowickle glanced up at her mother with
its wide, mesmerizing eyes.
"It's just a Snowickle, Mother. I found him alone
up at the snowberry patch. I think he's orphaned. I said I would keep him; he
looked pretty sad up there, all by his lonesome… Please, Mom, can I keep him,
Her mother gave a nervous twitter. "Are you sure
that's the s-s-safest thing to do, Lorelei? You know how I feel about Snowickles…"
Her mother was frightened of anything that crawled,
except maybe Snowbunnies. But who could be afraid of Snowbunnies?
"Please, Mom?" Lorelei plucked the Snowickle
from the ground and held it before her mother. The tiny creature let out a low
squeal, eyes glistening. Her mother stared at it for a moment.
"Oh, all right. But it better not cause any trouble."
"Oh, thank you, thank you Mom!" Lorelei shouted,
kissing her mother on the cheek. The Snowickle purred contentedly in her grasp.
The rest of the day was spent in snowy bliss.
Lorelei and her new Snowickle, which she dubbed Snowflake, played endlessly
in the snowdrifts outside their home. When Francis and his friends threw a snowball
at her, Lorelei initiated a snowball fight, and Snowflake fought bravely alongside
her. She was amazed at how graceful the tiny creature was; its whole body moved
fluidly, in an indescribable natural rhythm of the likes she'd never seen before.
After that, she made a shoddy igloo. When she
and Snowflake entered it, it collapsed, and she and Snowflake rolled, giggling,
in the powdery snow. She quickly noticed how close she was becoming to Snowflake,
and Snowflake to her. The affectionate Snowickle snuggled by her legs whenever
she walked, and made soft twittering noises whenever she held it in her arms.
She loved it, and she knew Snowflake felt likewise.
It was dusk when it became too dark to stay outside.
That was disappointing to Lorelei, who was halfway through building a snowman
in the front yard with Snowflake. The little Snowickle was working tirelessly
as it helped her roll its body into place, and fetched a hat, a carrot, coal
for its eyes and buttons, and a scarf like an obedient Puppyblew. When she finally
had to call it quits, the two entered the house, the petpet secure in its master's
She had a little while before the feast. Since
she could not play outside, Lorelei decided to read. She picked up a rather
heavy tome from her father's bookshelf, a book entitled Wintry Petpets: What
They Are, How They Act, and Where to Find Them. She curled up on the couch,
a wool blanket around her legs. Snowflake climbed on her shoulder, and when
the Snowickle was comfortable, she began reading.
It was not long before she found the section
on Snowickles, the section she had been searching for. Snowflake was sleeping
upon her arm when she did so.
"When young, Snowickles are often seen as compassionate,
curious creatures with openly sweet dispositions and inquisitive natures. They
bond easily with pets and can quickly form lasting bonds with their owners.
They love to give and receive affection and openly display their emotions to
those they truly care about. They even display some qualities more commonly
attributed to pets such as Warfs and Puppyblews, including steadfast loyalty,
always following their owner, and fetching items. While loveable and caring,
Snowickles are very sensitive and are not strangers to having their feelings
hurt. Treat one well if you are to keep one in your care.
As it matures, a Snowickle's personality and
appearance will alter drastically. Not only will it grow at an explosive rate,
but its sensitivity will reach great peaks, in which they nearly lose all traces
of their once caring and sweet dispositions. They will become cranky, sulky,
grumpy, and greedy, often taking shiny things and hiding them away where no
one will think to look for them. As has been stated previously, they will also
grow in size at a rapid rate. At only six months old, Snowickles are known to
be able to take on fully grown Grarrls. Year-old Snowickles usually average
twenty feet in length and weigh two hundred pounds."
Lorelei was horrified when she read the entry.
She was happy Snowflake was still snoozing pleasantly on her arm when she finished.
Snowflake, sweet, loveable Snowflake, was going to turn out to be a greedy fiend?
That didn't seem likely; the little petpet was full of vibrant energy and happiness
and… love. Snowflake couldn't do that. She would make sure of it.
And the whole thing about size was shocking.
Snowflake, big? The tiny creature looked barely big enough to fit inside a pillow,
much less take on a fully grown Grarrl. The thought of Snowflake, face contorted
by greed, lips curled, fangs bared, eyes glistening hatefully, as it brawled
some ferocious beast for something -- anything -- scared her deeply.
Her mother's voice took her back to reality.
"Are you ready to go to the feast? We have to
leave. There's a snowstorm outside, so you'll need to dress warmly, okay, honey?"
"Sure, Mom." Lorelei got up. Snowflake was roused
into waking, and curled up cozily upon the sofa. Lorelei stared at the creature
worriedly for a moment, thoughts of what it could become filling her mind. Throwing
on her heaviest overcoat, mittens, gloves, and cap, she slipped into her boots
and returned to the sofa.
"Snowflake… You'll never become one of those
nasty things they were talking about in that book, will you?" Lorelei stroked
the Snowickle lovingly; it nuzzled her wrist affectionately, warmth radiating
in its eyes. Lorelei felt tears come to her eyes as she realized her sweet little
Snowflake may turn out to be something mean and vicious in temperament, so unlike
the innocent little creature that was nuzzling her palm at the moment, squeaking
"It's time to go, Lorelei."
Lorelei arose, heading towards the door. Snowflake
trotted alongside her; an idea struck the Acara.
"Mom? Can I take Snowflake?"
"No, dear. You can't take petpets to the feast;
everyone knows that."
That was the truth. Ever since Melinda's Snorkle,
Snarf, ate every bowl of plum pudding three years prior, it had been an undisputed
rule that petpets were not allowed.
"I'm sorry, Snowflake, but you're going to have
to stay here."
The Snowickle stared at her for a moment, but
did not acknowledge the words. It continued to follow her, even as she neared
the front door. Her mother and father stood on the porch, warming their hands,
preparing for the walk in the snow. It was coming down in heavy loads now; the
air was full of whirling white flecks, dotting the starless night sky. The temperature
"Stay, Snowflake -- no, stay, you can't come,
No matter how much she pleaded, the little Snowickle
did not seem to understand. It kept trying to follow her outside, even she continued
to push it back inside.
"C'mon, Lorelei, we need to go," her father mentioned.
"Wait, Father. C'mon, Snowflake, stay inside,
When she finally managed to get the tiny creature
inside, it slipped past her legs and darted into the snow. Grumbling, she dashed
after it, her father giving a disgruntled sigh. After wrestling with Snowflake
in the snow for several moments, she managed to take it back to the house, the
Snowickle squealing in her arms. She dropped it on the floor.
"Snowflake, you have to stay. Do you understand?
Don't worry, I'll be back later…"
Snowflake already moved to leap onto the porch.
Quickly Lorelei chased it; Snowflake whirled around, excited by this game of
"C'mon, Lorelei, we need to leave now!"
"Wait a moment, Father… No, Snowflake, stay inside!"
Frustrated, Lorelei slammed the door shut as Snowflake darted back inside.
That's when it happened.
There was a squeal of pain, and in horror, she
realized the Snowickle's tail was pinched in the doorway. Quickly she pulled
open the door. Snowflake turned and gave her a blank stare, its lips fumbling
for words to say. It let out a lugubrious moan, its eyes piercing into the depths
of her being. Lorelei felt numb, even within her faux fur coat. It let out another
mournful cry, limping off to the side.
"Snowflake, I'm sorry, I'm--"
"Let's go, honey; we're going to be late!"
"Wait just a second, Father! Can't you see he
just got hurt?"
Her father groaned.
She was too late. Snowflake had disappeared within
the house. The image of his sorrow-stricken eyes, staring up at her so sadly,
made her want to cry. She tried not to think of what she had done as she walked
off into the snow, her father mumbling about being late, her mother breathing
hot air into her clenched paws. Lorelei turned back to look at the house. Faintly,
she thought she could see something perched on the windowsill, staring out at
Lorelei didn't speak for the remainder of the
walk, too disgusted by herself to do anything. She wept silently, unbeknownst
to her father and mother.
"Lorelei, are you all right? You seem a little
sulky… Are you okay?"
"What's wrong, Lor? You excited about tomorrow?
Wait… Is something wrong?"
"You seem a little down, Lorelei… You all right?
Did something happen?"
"Why the long face, young one? Here, have some
plum pudding; you'll feel better soon…"
"Lorelei, have some cherry pie. You love cherry
pie. C'mon, lighten up, honey."
Lorelei shrugged them all off, trying to keep
to herself, not wishing to talk to anyone. Why wouldn't they just leave her
The feast was over, and Lorelei felt just as
empty as she had before it had begun. She wasn't interested in eating anything,
not plum pudding, not snowberry soup, not asparagus casserole, not her favorite,
cherry pie. Everything seemed tasteless. And although everyone around her was
belting out carols and merrymaking in the Christmas spirit, Lorelei felt more
alone than she ever had before.
When it was over, Lorelei rushed out, desperate
to escape from everyone who was having a joyous time. She dashed out into the
snow, desolate, alone, tears pouring down her face; she ignored the calls of
her worried mother, her father, even Francis, who had tried to talk to her the
entire evening and had failed to get much more than a couple mumbled words.
She didn't know how long it was before she burst
into the house, panting, and cold beyond feeling. She ignored all these factors.
"Snowflake? Snowflake!" she cried. There was
no answer. The house was silent, and very dark, minus the glowing candles on
the windowsills. She searched beneath the dining table, on the sofa, underneath
the cushions, in the kitchen, in the cabinets, in the sink, on her bed, under
her bed, behind her bed, in her dresser, on her desk, and everywhere else a
Snowickle might've run off to. She didn't find him.
Feeling helpless, Lorelei slumped across her
"Lorelei?! What's wrong, honey?"
Suddenly, her mother was there, consoling her.
Lorelei sobbed into her shoulder, happy to have someone who cared.
"Did you see his face, Mom? That look on his
little face… I couldn't bear it. I'd hurt him, so badly… Now I can't find him."
"Oh, honey," her mother murmured soothingly,
shushing her gently. "I'm sure he's in here somewhere. If there's anything I
know, Christmas is the perfect time to forgive someone. I'm sure he'll show
up tomorrow. C'mon now, you're exhausted. You can look for him in the morning,
Lorelei felt tired, very tired, and nodded in
acceptance. Her mother tucked her in, and tears glittering on her cheeks, Lorelei
fell into a deep sleep, but not one riddled with dreams of what would lay in
store for her on Christmas morning.
Lorelei awoke feeling chilled to the bone. She
didn't feel like opening her eyes. She felt chilled to the bone, even though
her blanket was wrapped around her. Her throat was dry and a cold wind was blowing
relentlessly onto her face. Finally she mustered the courage and strength to
open her eyes, and gasped at what she saw.
Her window was broken, and her Christmas decorations
Her Christmas Fir had toppled to the floor, its
ornaments cracked and broken upon the floor. The tinsel she had so painstakingly
hung to the walls and ceiling lay waving in the windy air. The holly was broken
up upon the floor, and scratch marks lined her windowsill and the surrounding
There was a gaping hole in the window, one that
had let in the chilling breeze and tiny flecks of snow with it.
Tears filled Lorelei's eyes as she realized what
had happened. She didn't even bother to call Snowflake's name. There was no
This was, without doubt, the worst Christmas
Rumors abound of Snowflake and what happened
to the little petpet. Some say his escape from Lorelei's house was futile; he
perished in the snowstorms shortly after. Some say he fled to the mountains
to rejoin his kind. Others say he ran off to a distant part of Neopia, never
to be seen amongst the snowdrifts ever again.
In any case, Lorelei never saw him again. Never…
Never, as the small creature he had once been. She did see him again, but she
did not know nor did she think it was him.
The truth of the situation was that the coldness
in Snowflake's heart took control of him. As he grew, a deep viciousness was
instilled in him, and he grew the lust for everything he could lay his corded
body across. All he wanted was more and more treasure, treasure to lay upon,
the treasure he hoped would fill the empty void Lorelei's rejection had created
within him. The treasure never did. It only left him with the feeling to gather
more, and more, and more…
Little Snowflake became much more than just a
sweet little petpet. He became a ruthless beast, one who gained much renown
and infamy as he gathered his glittering horde in the Ice Caves. A terrible
worm that would fill legends with his greed, his bestial strength, his anger,
his hatred, his empty, ice-cold heart…
Is there any need to say what poor, misunderstanding
Snowflake became? The myths and legends speak for themselves.
And that, as they say, is that.