For Jen-with my best wishes
You will find Neopians on any street corner who can tell
you that Faeries govern the elements of Neopia. Some will even suggest that
the more powerful ones, like Illusen, have pets who help them. Message-carriers.
But if you mention sunbeam pets... they will
shake their heads, turn away, ask you what you mean. There are very few in Neopia
who know of the sunbeam pets. And most of those who know would rather keep the
It was a cold day, in the last weeks of a sharp
winter. The humans and pets in Neopia Central were huddled indoors, relishing
the warmth and light of their cosy firesides. Nobody was out on the backstreets
of the town. Nobody saw the place where, on an unnoticed doorstep, with no-one
to watch over it... an egg lay.
Inside the shell, an unborn Neopet stirred,
feeling the cold from outside penetrate through the warmth of the egg. Outside,
the first raindrops of a winter shower fell, staining the eggshell a darker
shade as they splashed on the pavements.
There had been no-one there in the backstreet.
But out of nowhere, delicate, slender hands lifted the egg from the ground.
Perfect, murmured a sweet-sounding voice,
almost as soft as the murmur of the rain. Let's get you out of the wet, little
one. We don't like it, do we?
A few moments later, there was only the rain-scattered
alleyway. Though nobody would miss it, the egg was gone.
Somewhere far above even the coloured clouds
of Faerieland, a Light Faerie was channelling sunbeams.
If anyone had been watching, they might have
thought they heard laughter as the golden light flowed past her fingertips.
Dozens of creatures were playing in the perfect
light, only visible by the glowing highlights on their fur and scales. Sparkling.
Shining. Had they been on the ground, they might have been called yellow pets,
or golden. Here, there was no such distinction. Every one of them seemed to
be made of the light, shimmering as they leapt from one cloudbank to another
like newborn pets having fun in freshly-fallen snowdrifts.
The Faerie clapped her hands and they were still
for a moment, listening.
I have brought you a new brother, she
told them. Be sure to make him welcome.
Placing the egg in one of the rays of sunlight,
she watched protectively as it began to show a crack. Then another.
He had never had a name, and never known his
species. What colour he was, it was impossible to tell amidst the dazzling light
that the Faerie had imparted to him. He was a sunbeam pet.
His life was an endless game, a whirl of laughter
and delight. Together with his friends, he would leap from cloud to cloud in
the blue skies.
The Light Faerie who had cared for him was always
somewhere close at hand, watching over the sunbeam pets. What are we doing?
he asked once, when he was very young.
We are helping to light up the world,
was her reply.
She let them go where they pleased, anywhere
across the beautiful sky. There was only one rule.
"You mustn't look down below the clouds,"
she had told him, sternly. "No good will come of it. Go where you like, but
remember not to look down."
So he continued to play, bouncing with all four
paws on the surface of a cloud, jumping in bright circles at terrifying speeds.
The other sunbeam pets laughed to see him, but never unkindly.
It was an Eyrie, one day, that frightened him
as it came speeding up through the clouds. It was green, a colour that no sunbeam
pet had ever been. Hurtling through his sunbeam, it spiralled helplessly off
its course until the ever-watchful Faerie caught it in a beam of light magic.
Gently but firmly, she lifted it back down to wherever its home might have been.
Where did it go? asked the sunbeam pet,
silently as they all spoke.
Nowhere for you to worry about, replied
his Faerie in a strange sharp tone. Don't try to follow.
What's down there? he persisted, glowing
with burning light as he questioned her impatiently.
The Eyrie occupied his thoughts for a long time.
Where had it gone? Could there be another cloudworld below this one,
where the sunlight was emerald green like that strange pet's wings? Could there
be something he had never seen?
He decided he had to find out.
It was when the Light Faerie was busy, occupied
with his newest little sister-- just hatched from her egg-- that he made his
move. Ducking his head and going into one of the aerial acrobatics that he loved,
he dodged between the clouds and looked out into the world below.
A baby Uni was sitting by her window in Neopia
Central, gazing at the sky. "Oh!" she breathed, staring at the vision outside.
"James, James, come and see the pet on the cwoud!"
"A pet on a cloud?" asked her brother, craning
his neck round the bedroom door. "What do you mean?"
"He's gowden aww over," lisped the Uni, unable
to tear her eyes away. She clutched her Buzz plushie to her heart as if she
were trying to grasp the creature in the sunlight. "Oh, James, isn't he fabuwous?"
But the sunbeam pet had darted behind the wisp
of cloud, out of sight. The Peophin simply nodded and stroked his sister's head.
"Fabulous. I'm sure he was, Tammy, but he's gone now."
Fabulous. The word was a new one to the
sunbeam pet, and as he returned-- a little guiltily-- to his friends, he let
the unfamiliar syllables flow through his mind. Fabulous!
Where have you been all day? The others
were gently teasing. He didn't answer, but they could almost sense something
was wrong. The games that had made him laugh in delight all his life were failing
to please him today. He had something else on his mind.
All day long, sitting apart from his friends,
he remembered the pet at the window. Her sweet expression. The way she'd spoken.
The room full of toys, and books, and the bed with its soft-coloured blankets.
The house with its painted roof and brick walls. Her smile at him.
Perhaps that's why she said not to look down,
he reflected, in case someone sees us there. Maybe we aren't meant to be
seen. That's got to be it.
In that case... I might have another look,
he thought secretively. As long as I stay out of sight, it's sure to be all
It was summer. The world was a symphony of green
and blue and gold, warm and bright.
The sunbeam pet looked down into a back garden,
where three figures were standing. One was a Uni, taller than the one he'd seen
before, and coloured with pretty stars. Another was almost like a Faerie in
her appearance, but wingless and with black hair. Although the sunbeam pet didn't
know it, she was a creature known as a human being to those who lived
in Neopia. The third was small, a ball of yellow fluff with two large feet.
"Happy Jubjub Day, Sam!" exclaimed the human
and the Uni in perfect unison. The Neopet blushed, pink among its yellow fur,
and offered them each a slice of thick, sweet-iced cake from a china plate.
The sunbeam pet, watching, felt as if he was
soaking up the joy and love from the little scene. He had never been so happy.
I must come back, he told himself like
a promise, and returned to his cloudbound home.
Where have you been?
It was the Light Faerie who asked, her eyes
on him as though she could see through to the truth.
Exploring, he tried. I didn't know
you needed me.
You were trying to look down. Weren't you?
Her tone was stern and cold.
Yes, I was. He didn't tell her that he
You-- must-- never-- look-- down. He
felt the Light Faerie's fury hit him like a blast, like a cold gust of wind.
I found you. I care for you. Don't you think I know best? The ones down there
are loveless. You are a sunbeam pet. Do-- not-- look-- down.
He heard her. How could he not hear her? In his
heart, he knew she was right. As a Faerie, she knew best.
But he had to look down. Otherwise, what was
there? Only the vast distances among the clouds. Only gold on white on blue,
as far as the eye could see.
Lifting himself into a sunray, he moved awkwardly
out of her sight, wondering if she could tell he was going to betray her trust
This time, it was a different part of Neopia
that met his eyes. At first, he wondered if he was still surrounded by clouds,
as pure whiteness dazzled his eyes. In a snowy wasteland high above the cities
and towns he'd seen before, a fight was going on.
This was different from the play-scuffles he'd
had with his friends on the cloudplains. It seemed more intent, more serious.
A pet ran to a human's arms as he watched. "Sorry, Shelle. I'm sick again. I'm
gonna have to pull out..."
All the same, there was an air of excitement
about it. Flashing blades of silver metal clashed against shields, spells and
snowballs filled the air as they flew from one side to another. More pets than
he'd ever seen were involved, some enjoying themselves, some deadly serious,
but all intent on helping their side to win.
He wished he could help them. It seemed like
an adventure. But the ground was still miles and miles below him, though his
sight was sharp and clear. He could never go down there.
The world below is not loveless. How he
longed to tell his Faerie that. The love he'd seen between the inhabitants of
Neopia was stronger than everything he'd experienced among the clouds. It was
a wonderful, magical life that they led.
He should be getting back to her now. But he
decided, on the spur of the moment, that one last look wouldn't hurt. Perhaps
he would see how the fight had ended.
Finding a random ray of sunshine, he followed
its path through the clouds. What treat would be in store for him down there?
The human boy sat miserably on the bed, surrounded
by packed suitcases. The pictures had been taken from the wall and the curtains
stripped from the windows.
As he stared at the opposite wall, a blue Kacheek
entered, holding a purse in her paw. "I got two K for the petpet, Joe. What
should I do with it?"
"Give it to the Money Tree," was the only response.
The boy picked up his cases and gently coaxed the Kacheek out of the room, locking
the door behind him on the empty flat.
The two of them, human and pet, descended the
stairs and walked out into the streets of Neopia Central, the Kacheek smiling
bravely. Throwing the purse full of Neopoints at the foot of an enormous, benevolently
smiling tree, they headed down one of the avenues, clutching tightly to one
Eventually, they arrived outside a large, imposing
building. The Kacheek tugged on her owner's shirt. "Joe, if... if you give me
the money, I'll take care of the forms. You don't have to come in. Just go on
The boy kicked furiously out at an abandoned
tin can. "Stupid parents saying I have to go back and live in their world!
His pet took a few Neopoints from his unresisting
hand, her paw shaking. "Give my love to them, Joe."
Then she was running away from him, as if she
was trying to escape their past together, into the building as he walked away.
The sunbeam pet stared in horror, not understanding.
Craning his neck to see, he peered through the dusty windows of the red-brick
The Kacheek had gone. He saw her disappearing
around the corner, holding the paw of a uniformed Aisha. Meanwhile, at the counter
stood a fierce-eyed girl with a beautifully-dressed Usul at her side, and a
young green Gelert held in her grip.
"Well, I warned you, didn't I?" she yelled.
"I warned you what would happen if you bit my darling Sherri again! And now
it's too late!"
The Gelert kicked, howled, whimpered. Throwing
down a filled-out form and a few jangling coins, his owner hurled him forcefully
into the grasp of a coat-wearing Techo.
As he was lifted in yellow-scaled arms, the
Gelert finally overcame his hysterics enough to manage two simple words.
But the girl turned her back and led the beautiful
From the cloudbank where he had climbed, the
sunbeam pet stared down at what was happening below him. He couldn't believe
that such things could be taking place in his perfect world.
Something happened, then, that the pet had never
experienced in his life. A drop of water spilt from his bright eyes, then another.
He was crying.
The teardrops fell away from him, tumbling,
caught by the breeze. Somewhere far below, they were falling to the ground.
And still he did not stop crying.
The wingbeats of the Light Faerie were behind
him. He expected fury, but instead he heard two words, spoken aloud-- a rare
thing among the cloudplains. "Oh, no," she breathed in shock, and took
off like a mounting hurricane. And still he did not stop crying.
Other sunbeam pets were there, staring at the
strange occurrence, not quite daring to come near. And still he kept crying,
unable to stop as his tears were swept away by the winds.
His teardrops were weighting down the sunbeam
on which he stood, tearing the delicate light. Forgetting his sadness for a
moment as panic mounted, his paws scrabbled for a safer hold. There was none
to be had. With terror in his eyes, he fell.
The community hall in Neopia Central was never
normally as busy as this. Families of Neopians sat clustered together in the
huge building, their voices echoing against the high ceiling, suitcases at their
feet holding their most important belongings. Young pets clawed impatiently
at the windowpanes, tired of their confinement in the strongly-built, weather-proof
hall. Others shared sweets and books, or played card games in corners.
A brown-haired girl sighed as she read the previous
day's copy of the Neopian Daily News, sitting on a checkered blanket
with her two pets by her side. One, a blue Kougra with waterdrops staining his
fur, jumped up to rest his paws on her shoulders and read the headline.
Neopia experiences worst rainstorm in
Scientists Baffled by Semi-Natural Phenomenon
Outside in the street, unnoticed by the sheltering
population, a yellow Wocky lay huddled beneath the glow of a streetlight, looking
up at the charcoal grey sky. He whimpered softly, tears brimming in his eyes,
as the rain poured down...