Midwinter War: Part Two
Charmond blinked. The light that had hit his eyes weren't
the same as before. He yawned twice and stood up. The Scorchio looked at the frost-covered
plain with raised eyebrows. He was pretty sure that he hadn't been here before.
What had happened?
The Scorchio shrugged the scary thoughts off
as he started walking, trying to remember. Suddenly he felt something hard under
one foot and fell flat on his face.
"Of all the things that had to happen, I have
to fall and hit my head," the Scorchio mumbled as he got up and examined the
object that had given him a bump on his forehead. It was a green pearl, probably
made out of glass and filled to half with water. Inside the emerald-colored
glass, the clear lime liquid was moving with an undulating motion, almost as
if it was gesturing him to go in a certain direction.
He took a step in that direction, and felt a
surge of power running through him. This little item would come in handy! The
Scorchio grinned as he started to walk again. He didn't feel all that sore anymore.
There! Whirls of smoke rose to the sky at the
horizon. It had to be life there! Charmond started to walk faster, in hope to
reach the end of this seemingly endless plain. As he sped up, the Scorchio suddenly
remembered how he got there. That green globe... Running away from home. A twinge
of guilt hit him.
Was it a good idea to run from home? Had it been
well thought-out? Charmond knew the answer. He was the one at fault. He was
lazy, incompetent and stubborn. As the Scorchio kept on marching, he listed
all of his bad points. Charmond discovered that there were many more than what
had popped up in his mind at first, but if he just kept doing this he wouldn't
have to worry about what was over there.
Soon the Scorchio was done with making the longest
list about his faults. Charmond's mind wandered off as his pace grew to be filled
with worry and hope for civilization.
Huffing and puffing, he finally got close enough
to see what was causing the smoke. Charmond was stunned at what he saw. Thousands
of small purple faeries, all fleeing from a village that had been swallowed
by fire... The Scorchio shuddered as he kept on walking. After all, he was a
Fire Scorchio and immune to the heat of those intense flames.
But curiosity was nagging at Charmond to find
out what was going on. He took a deep breath and straightened himself, the grabbed
"What's happening?" the Scorchio asked.
"Let me go!" the faerie shouted at him. "Can't
you see? Our whole village in on fire! Those cursed pets came here around midnight
and set fire on everything!"
"Oh." Charmond released the squirmy faerie as
he walked closer to examine the fire. He pondered on a few questions... Why
would some pets set fire on a faerie village? Why were the faeries so afraid
and running away instead of... Of course! Dark Faeries didn't have the power
As the last ashes fell to the ground and the
smoke disintegrated, there was one person standing in there. The Scorchio got
closer, but felt the pearl telling him not to. It was as if the storming waves
inside were screaming, "This'll be bad!"
With an elegant movement, the creature that Charmond
had been watching turned around and faced him. It was a Dark Faerie, but not
like the others. Her raven black hair had two light blue streaks in it and her
wings were in the same color. She was also holding a staff with an orb of compete
darkness attached on the top. Her cherry-red lips revealed a cruel grin.
"So you've arrived," the faerie whispered and
disappeared in a poof of gray smoke.
The whole thing had lasted only a few seconds,
but it gave Charmond quite a chill. The scene was there, etched in his mind.
"This must be what they call 'dangerous beauty',"
the Scorchio whispered, stunned at the sight.
He couldn't remember how long he stood there
after the faerie had disappeared. It seemed like an eternity. The vision of
the faerie had been like that of a faint butterfly, only to fly away when you've
almost touched its wings...
Finally Charmond decided to leave. After all,
he wanted to find people and no one was here. In front of him, he saw a forest
of deep green trees, all old and way taller than him. The Scorchio looked back.
The plain or the forest? But he had to walk on, to find someone at least.
The forest was a refreshing change from the desolate
village and the endless plain. It kind of reminded him of how he had gotten
here. What was this place? Charmond regretted that he hadn't thought of asking
that faerie he grabbed. Oh well...
The Scorchio saw a big castle in the distance.
He also saw a nice, cozy village below and his heart skipped a beat. Feeling
quite hopeful, Charmond started to run as the forest was too thick to fly through.
He made a lot of noises while running, such as breaking twigs and branches until
he realized something and stopped.
It was too quiet. Except for the puffing that
the Scorchio was doing, there were no other sounds in the forest. Charmond took
a step forward, his intuition telling him that something was wrong, and it was
Splash! The Scorchio had fallen into a pool of
mud. It would seem that the ice had been very thin just at that specific spot
he had stepped on. Sputtering and furious, Charmond quickly got out of the pool
and continued to run.
He was close... closer... there! He could see
the lanterns hanging from the entrance of the village. With his heart full of
hope, Charmond forced himself to slow down, despite the excitement that was
rushing inside of him. The gentle breeze that had pushed the Scorchio to this
place died out, and he was left to explore on his own.
The Scorchio walked down the broad street, expecting
many pets to hurry by like they did in Neopia City. But none did so. After a
few minutes of sauntering, Charmond came to a halt and decided to find out what
was going on here. The houses all looked normal, like tiny cottages in Meridell
and Brightvale. Even though he could see shadows inside the houses, there was
no one on the street.
"Hmm... I wonder why?" Charmond thought as he
snuck closer to a house. "I know! I'll peek and see what they do inside!" The
Scorchio grinned as he got up and put his face close to the window.
Faint, joyous tones reached the Scorchio's ears
as the windows vibrated slightly. His eyes widened at the sight. Inside sat
four pets, all happily feasting on ham, sausages, meatballs, bread, taco and
more. He could distinguish a big plastic fir with gingerbread cookies on it.
Wrapped packages in bright colors lied under the tree. The delicious food was
calling out to him...
Feeling sorry for himself, the Scorchio turned
around and tried another house. It was the same, house after house. They were
all locked, with the inhabitants happily eating inside. And of course, just
like home, he was the outsider. Charmond almost drowned in the overwhelming
sorrow that washed over him. Of course, there was no place for him at those
His stomach growled as a small tear rolled down
Charmond's cheek. He wondered what they were doing at home right now. Then it
hit him. It was Christmas! The Scorchio peeked again, and the fact that the
pets inside were painted that color confirmed his suspicion.
"Maybe they're missing me?" he thought.
"You've got to be kidding yourself," a voice
told him, "they don't need you at home. You were just a big, bad troublemaker
and now they're probably relieved that you've left on your own. You were never
"Stop it!" Charmond told the voice in his head.
Then he sniffled as more crystal tears rolled down his face. It was true. Compared
to the wonderful duo of owner and pet, Alice and Felix, he was nothing but a
"You wish you were at home... Warm, safe and
loved..." another voice whispered, colder than the one with the sarcastic tone.
"But now you're here, stranded and left alone..."
"Argh! Shut up!" the Scorchio screeched at the
voices as he lifted a hand to wipe away the flowing tears. With a final step,
Charmond sat down and thought.
"Yes... I guess they're right. It was foolish
to run away from home..." The feeling of regret was added to the boiling pot
of emotions inside him. Remembering Felix' comment, Charmond clenched his fist.
"Calling me a fool, that Felix..."
"But he was right, wasn't he?" the cold voice
asked. "You can fight him again... And you'll be able to win..."
Charmond brushed the sounds away, as if they
were just annoying flies. He hadn't really thought about it, running away from
home. Now the Scorchio realized that he had been half-dreaming all along, coming
here to this place with no people... being outside, looking in.
"It has always been that," he told himself, "and
it was all my fault."
"Then again, you never really made an effort
trying to fit in," the sarcastic voice commented.
The Scorchio sat there, silent and pondering.
Finally he just had to admit it. "I guess... I miss it..."
"That's the first step to recovery. Admitting
it." Felix' voice rang in his mind as Charmond burned with frustration again.
Even when he was feeling sorry, Felix would make a snide comment...
"But... I'll have to try," he promised himself.
"If I met them again, I'd try to be nicer..."
Sitting on the snow-covered stone, he wallowed
in self-pity. The Scorchio's stomach growled a few more times. The tears just
wouldn't stop easily... Charmond raised his arm for the sixteenth time to dry
his tears, but something grabbed it.
Without knowing why, a cold feeling washed over
him. The Scorchio felt the surge, the same that had been running through him
when he had picked up the green pearl.
"Now, what do we have here?" a Grarrl grinned
evilly as Charmond turned around.
"I say, I'm innocent!" Charmond shouted at the
two Grarrl warriors who were carrying him to the big castle. "I was just watching
the village... My intention was peaceful!"
Those two didn't seem to be listening. The Scorchio
sighed and looked at the sky. "I wonder if they're under the same sky as I am...
Perhaps watching me?"
He shuddered. There was something watching him,
"Clamp it," a guard snarled at Charmond as he
put a gag on the Scorchio's mouth.
"There," the guard grinned, "all done and ready
for our Lord."
"Too bad we had to patrol on Christmas," the
other one sighed wistfully. Then he added with a sad face, "Look at that poor
thing... To be caught on Christmas."
"It's our duty," the first one pointed out. "Or,"
he said with a menacing expression on his face, "Would you like to be reported
as a traitor?"
The other Grarrl looked stunned at this suggestion.
He spluttered, "You... You wouldn't dare!"
"We've arrived," the guard said shortly as they
reached the castle. The relentless grip on the Scorchio's arms tightened as
the two guards told their names and a keyword to the pet in the entrance booth.
"Roger. Open the doors of the great hall." The
pet's voice echoed in the whole yard, bouncing back and forth among the stones.
He lowered his voice and whispered to the Grarrl, "You do know that our Lord
will not be pleased to be disturbed during his Christmas Dinner?"
The Grarrl nodded solemnly as he practically
dragged poor Charmond after him. A dark, rich, red carpet was placed at the
doorway as the two guards entered. The Scorchio felt that other grip on his
arm was looser, and he looked at the guard. The other Grarrl looked really nervous
and gulped every five seconds as they entered the Lord's dining room.
The merry atmosphere in the room immediately
vanished as all conversations were brought to a quick end. Charmond could only
see blurred specks, but the two guards standing in front of him could see everything.
He heard someone breathe rapidly and then bellow...
"WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS?" the Lord shouted.
"Explain immediately!" the royal Kougra continued as the rest all gasped in
"Lord Faran, I bring you the perfect pet!" the
Grarrl said proudly. The Scorchio could hear the other one muttering curses
"The perfect pet? For the mission?" the Lord
"Yes, my Lord," the guard replied.
"Very good. You shall be rewarded, Retart." The
royal Kougra clapped his hands. "Let's resume where we were interrupted, shall
we? Oh, and Retart?"
"Yes, my lord?" the Grarrl asked. Charmond could
see that he was quite eager to receive a reward.
"Please take our pet to the dungeons. I'll have
to test his faith first, and we cannot allow him to mess up the castle in case
he decides..." Lord Faran glared at the the Scorchio, as if challenging him,
"to disagree. That would be most unpleasant." The Kougra then sighed and rung
a small bell. "But remember, my dear, it's Christmas. Let us have a merry evening
and get into our Christmas spirit!"
"I hear and heed, my Lord," Retart said as he
dragged Charmond out of the hall.
"That was close," the other Grarrl told Retart.
"I know. Lucky for us, this one's pretty stupid."
The big Grarrl threw the Scorchio into a dungeon and locked the door. As they
were leaving, Charmond heard one last thing that sparked his curiosity.
"Suppose he'll get a partner?"
The Scorchio swallowed and gulped a few times.
Now he was alone, in the dark, fungus-filled dungeon. It sure had that smell,
a mixture of rusty iron and cold stone. Charmond slumped down and started to
count those fluffy little petpets. He'd just have to wait...
But he had to try! With the last desperate hope
flickering, he shouted.
To be continued...