Spells, Secrets, and Snowberry Tea: Part One
Author’s Note: This is a sequel to At the AstroVilla in issues 260-268. You don’t have to read it to fully understand, but I highly suggest that you do. Although the plot is completely different and unrelated, there is a lot of referencing to the At the AstroVilla, so it will help a lot if you read it first. Also, this story is set during the holiday season (because that’s when I wrote it) so please excuse the fact that it’s several months behind the real world. :)
High atop a frosty mountain, wind and snow swept around a white Cybunny wrapped in a Taelia Style Coat. Held tightly between her two shivering paws was a small scrap of paper. As a rather violent gust hit the mountain, the Cybunny pulled her hood up.
The Neopian Sea glistened below. With every chunk of glacier that floated by, it seemed to sparkle more. A small pet’s laughter could be heard from the snowy valley below. Bells jingled every time a shop door was opened or closed. The green, red, and white lights reflected off the perfect ocean and onto the ships that were docking.
Such a lovely morning... so why was she troubled?
“Cypher? There you are!”
The Cybunny turned to see a disco Aisha in a heavy fur coat approach her. She quickly stuffed the scrap of paper in an inside pocket of her blue coat.
“How did I know to find you at the top of the mountain?” the Aisha said playfully, “And don’t give me that ‘I like to watch boats dock in the valley’ excuse. Because that’s boring, and you know it is.”
Cypher laughed. “Paisley, just look out there! Have you ever seen anything so gorgeous?”
“Yeah, actually, I have!” Paisley answered with a shrug, “A snowberry delight cake with a marshmallow slushie!”
Cypher rolled her eyes, but giggled. “I’ve eaten enough snowberries this past week to last me a lifetime! Tea in the morning, a crepe for lunch, sometimes even a cake for dinner...”
Paisley put an arm around her best friend as they began to walk towards the ice caves. “You’re a resident of the lovely Happy Valley, my friend! We’ve entered the Month of Celebrating! That’s all anyone eats this time of year!”
“That’s all anyone eats any time of year in this place!” Cypher chuckled.
“But,” Paisley said as they entered the Ice Caves, “it always gets to the extremes in this month! Which reminds me, the new slushie started getting sold this morning. Holiday Slushie, it’s called. Let’s go grab one!”
As the two pals passed the Neggery, Cypher stated, “I bet there’s a super long line! Whenever the slushie shop creates a new flavor, pets come from the Lost Desert and Mystery Island just to get their hands on one! I’ll bet there’s even more pets this time since it’s holiday-themed.”
Paisley sighed, jokingly rolling her eyes. “Oh Cypher, Cypher, Cypher. When will you learn that lines aren’t something to worry about for you! Pets should be coming up from the south to catch a glimpse of your ears! You’re a superstar now!”
“No, I’m not!” Cypher replied, shaking her head, “I don’t know where you get that idea...”
“Oh my gosh! Look! It’s Cypher!” At that moment, an Acara and a Zafara standing near the Ice Crystals Shop ran towards Cypher and Paisley. The Acara reached into her coat and pulled out an air faerie pen. “We’re from the Haunted Woods!” the Zafara said excitedly, “But we read about you in The Neopian Times! You are so amazing... I can’t believe what you did!”
“Will you sign my hat?” the Acara exclaimed, bouncing on her heels.
“Uh... sure,” Cypher said, taking the pen and scribbling her name quickly on the Acara’s cap. “Here you go.”
As the two pets scampered away, giggling excitedly, Paisley gave Cypher a ‘told-you-so’ look. “Still don’t know where I get that idea?” She laughed. “Cypher, you were on the front page of the Neopian Times! You saved a famous, five-star hotel from being shut down! You managed to solve a crime that the Chia Police couldn’t!”
“Yeah,” Cypher said glumly, “with some help that didn’t get any deserved glory.”
Paisley rolled her eyes. “Oh, get over it!” she groaned, just as the entered the tunnel to Happy Valley. “So the Kougra’s name was mentioned in the article once, misspelled! Big whoop. I’m sure he got over it.”
“Paisley,” Cypher said sternly, “Luther did half the work! Without him, I could be in a dungeon in Faerieland right now! He should have gotten some credit! And his name was only mentioned on a list of hotel employees who helped out!”
“So he got some credit, right there!” Paisley said, shrugging.
Cypher raised an eyebrow. “Every single hotel worker’s name was there. Plus, they spelled it L-o-o-t-h-e-r!”
Paisley turned and faced Cypher, paws on her hips. “If you keep ranting about this, I’m not going to pay for your slushie!”
Cypher giggled. “Like I need you to. How many neopoints do you have with you right now?”
Paisley shrugged. “Not much... 400k I’d say. And that’s just half of my allowance.”
“Allowance?” Cypher exclaimed. “For doing what, exactly?”
Paisley frowned. “You’re supposed to do something to get allowance? Since when?”
Cypher sighed, laughing. “Never mind,” she said, as they entered the snowy valley. The place looked like a Christmas card, with snow-covered shops and holiday lights streamed everywhere. Pets and their owners laughed and chat merrily, all wrapped in heavy coats and bearing shopping bags.
“Ah...” Paisley said, “’tis the season! So, Cypher, what’s on your Christmas list this year?”
The white Cybunny shrugged. “I was going to ask for a white Weewoo, but Anna got me one when she got back from her trip. I don’t really need anything else. You?”
Paisley smiled. “I was thinking a disco ball and a heart shaped window for my room, a faerie petpet paint brush for Ingrid, and a new leather jacket! You know, the one with the fur collar!”
Cypher frowned. “But, Paisley, you painted your Kadoatie rainbow last week, and you just got that fur coat yesterday! How about something you don’t already have?”
Paisley snorted. “What does it matter? Change every once in a while is good!”
“More like change every day...” Cypher muttered to herself as they approached the slushie shop. There was indeed an enormous line, practically stretching down the entire street. A sign was up in the window of the shop; it read: NEW HOLIDAY SLUSHIE! 1000 NP!
“Make way!” Paisley said, strutting to the shop entrance, “Make way for Cypher the Solver and her personal assistant, the Incredible Paisley!”
The pets that were crowed around the front door looked up at Cypher, all smiling widely. A blue Blumaroo right at the front stepped back. “You can get in front of me!” he said excitedly.
“That really isn’t necessary,” Cypher said, “I’ll wait in line like all of you...”
“Thank you, sir!” Paisley interrupted loudly. She grabbed Cypher by the wrist and dragged her into the line.
Cypher rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything. Paisley had always been the loud, somewhat obnoxious sidekick who got her way. Now wasn’t the time to change things. Especially since Paisley was right this time.
Cypher had saved a popular Neopian resort from becoming history the past summer. She had solved a puzzle that had left the Chia Police baffled... but not without some help. Luther the Kougra, a kitchen boy in the hotel, had assisted Cypher in the solving of the crime.
The line moved steadily onward, and within five minutes, Cypher and Paisley were standing at the counter. Paisley smiled at Ralph, a white Eyrie, who owned the Slushie Shop. “Two Holiday Slushies, please!”
Ralph smiled broadly and began to ready two cups. “Anything for you two,” he said, glancing at Cypher, “and especially you, Cypher. It’s not every day we have a celebrity walk into our shop.”
As Paisley gave Cypher her rather famous ‘I-told-you-so’ look, Cypher shook her head. “I’m no celebrity, Ralph,” she said.
“But you are!” the Eyrie said, as he added the ice into the soon-to-be slushie, “You saved many pets from a terrible fate!”
Cypher rolled her eyes, wishing everyone would get the facts straight, and quit believing what they wanted to believe. “I didn’t save anybody, really. I just helped the hotel out when they were in a tough position... that’s it. That’s all I did.”
Paisley snorted. “Oh, quit being modest!” she said, jokingly hitting her on the arm. “You discovered the truth! For that you deserve so much more than the front page of the Neopian Times!”
Ralph and Paisley both laughed, while Cypher stared blankly at the wall. She realized how she must have sounded to Luther at the hotel when she was acting like this...
“Here you are,” Ralph said, handing Paisley and Cypher their finished slushies. “Come back soon, you two. And Cypher... don’t forget to tell everyone how great that slushie is!” Ralph laughed and waved at them as they walked out of the shop and into the falling snow.
“Oh, that Ralph!” Paisley said, taking a sip of the slushie and giggling, “What a character!”
Cypher frowned. “You do realize that he didn’t make us pay.”
Paisley stopped walking for a moment and rolled her eyes. “We’ve been over this before! You’re a super hero now! Next thing you know, there will be Cypher Plushies and Clockwork Cyphers!”
“Oh, stop it,” Cypher said, sighing, “I don’t want any of that. Everyone’s been treating me so differently since I got back from the AstroVilla. I remember the old days... the way everyone used to be. Every shopkeeper knew who we were, just because we were locals and hung out so much. We even used to work at the Slushie Shop sometimes! Now, I’m like a walking billboard for it, just because I was in the newspaper. It’s sickening.”
“No,” Paisley said, shaking her head, “It’s advertising, and it’s smart too!”
“It’s stupid!” Cypher said, rolling her eyes. No one understood...
“If Cypher the Cybunny drinks a Holiday Slushie, and says that it tastes good... heck, every pet on Neopia will be scrambling to get one! Welcome to the world of fame, darling. You better get used to it.”
“I’d rather be a nobody,” Cypher muttered to herself. She looked down, realizing that she had yet to try the brand new slushie. The straw touched her shivering lips and she tasted the most wonderful blend of ice cream, gooseberries, and ganboplant. “This is delicious!”
“Of course it is!” Paisley said, taking another sip of her half-gone slushie, “It’s a holiday slushie and we’re drinking it during the wondrous holidays in a snowy little valley. It’s like a dream! We’re living a dream!”
“Yeah...” Cypher sighed contently. The two friends had now reached the Happy Valley Port, where countless ships and ferries were docking. The Port was always hectic at this time of year, seeing as Terror Mountain was the hotspot for the holidays. Innumerable pets, all wrapped in coats and scarves, were waiting rather impatiently for the Eyries that flew guests to the Mountain Lodge at the top of the mountain.
“The only bad thing,” Paisley said stiffly, as they squeezed through a pack of rowdy Skeiths, “is this mess! So many pets, very few transportation Eyries.”
Cypher smiled at a young Bori who was playing in the snow. “Maybe some of them should walk up the mountain. It’s not terribly far, considering you and I just---” At that moment, Cypher bumped heavily into another pet. “I’m sorry!” she squealed, blinking through the snow to see whom she had she hit.
Cypher stared at the figure in front of her, and he stared back. It was a skunk Kougra, wrapped in nothing but a wool scarf. To his left was a small suitcase with an open pamphlet lying across the top. It read: ‘Mountain Lodge Vacations!’ in big red letters. Cypher had to fight to not drop her slushie.
To be continued...