The Renegade Snowickle
Sloth himself could not have created a more chaotic scene. The cosy hut upon the idealistic golden shores of Mystery Island was a hectic mess, and the situation was worsening by the moment. Chewed-on plushies hung in a haphazard manner from high shelves, and the elegant furniture, brand new and purchased proudly from the stunning selection Neovia had to offer, was scratched. The contents of a cup of Borovan were seeping into the rug, and balancing precariously on a chair, a Plushie Draik was making a heartfelt plea.
"Please come down, Soli. My sister doesn't know you've escaped her room. She doesn't need to know."
The recipient of this request was currently perched atop the heavy gilded frame on the wall. A tiny Faerie Snowickle, cobalt eyes aglow with wicked mischief, dainty wings fluttering, threatening to lift his miniscule form into flight. He blinked slowly, as if considering the Draik's plea. Meti, still trying to not fall off the chair he had so clumsily clambered onto, looked hopeful.
"He's never going to come down, you know."
The disdainful comment uttered by Dealt, a rather elegant looking Maraquan Draik, and a close friend of the bumbling plushie specimen who now, without any sign of grace, toppled off the chair and landed with a thud. This seemed to snatch away any sympathy the Snowickle might have felt, and gleefully, it launched into the air. With a malicious squeal, it nipped at Meti's tail, before rapidly floating out the window.
Dealt groaned, and offered a clawed hand to his friend, who dizzily stood. In dismay, they both gazed at the open window, now devoid of any sight of the rogue petpet. Devastated, Meti's soft, plush shoulders sagged.
"Raven's going to feed me to the Brain Tree, Dealt! I wasn’t meant to let the Snowickle out of its cage."
Dealt, who was well aware of Raven's temper, couldn't help but agree. He opened his mouth to venture the opinion that releasing a petpet with wings from its enclosure wasn't really a wise move, before he caught sight of Meti's sagging features. Heaving a sigh, he shook his head.
"We can get Soli back, Meti. He's only got little wings; how far could he have gone?"
The Plushie Draik nodded resolutely. After all, searching Neopia for the renegade petpet had to be better than facing the wrath of his sister!
After carefully packing all the necessary provisions for such a search, the two friends set out. They questioned everyone from the Tiki Tak stall keeper to the Techo Master without a single ounce of help. Spirits were low when they stumbled upon the rather enigmatic JubJubs that ran the tours on the Island. Always popular with the tourists who flocked to the paradise, the JubJubs were friendly and seemed to have a keen eye on everything that happened within the small community. Meti eyed them suspiciously, not really sure he trusted anyone with such big feet.
Dealt cleared his throat.
"Have you seen a Snowickle flitter by?" he ventured. "He's Faerie, has wings. Pretty small fellow."
The JubJubs babbled to each other in some strange tongue, one studying the two friends, before announcing an accented reply.
"One of the tourists mentioned a strange sight only a few moments ago. A Snowickle clinging to the mast of the most recent boat to leave the Island."
Meti gasped. How many Snowickles could possibly be fleeing the Island? With a hasty thanks, the pair of Draiks scuttled towards the boat dock, where another small craft was preparing to set sail. Urgently, they checked the timetable. A tattered sheet which was nailed to a small boat shed. Quickly, Dealt ran a claw down the list.
"The last boat, the one the tourist saw, was headed for Faerieland. And this next one is too, if we can catch it!"
Anxiously, they checked their resources, pooling their Neopoints to purchase two return tickets for the same day. Meti reflected silently that if he didn't find the petpet, it might be better not to return at all!
The boat rocked and glided its way towards the drifting clouds of Faerieland with seemingly agonising slowness. Indeed, Meti and Dealt both felt that everything that could possibly work against them already had. The gently lapping waves, caressing the wooden hull seemed to giggle, mocking the two of them. After what seemed like hours, Meti squinted, and leapt to his feet.
"I can see Fyora's Tower, Dealt! We're about to dock!"
The second the ship was secured safely, the two Draiks leapt off, rushing forward, glancing around urgently. There was no sign of the tiny petpet; however, nearby, the Wheel of Excitement seemed to be damaged, an irate faerie cleaning the face of the wheel with a furious expression. Meti and Dealt approached with caution.
"What happened?" Meti enquired, his stomach sinking with the distinct suspicion that he felt he probably knew what, or who had happened. The Faerie glared.
"Some foolish pet let their Snowickle out! The little beast clawed the wheel; it's going to take me hours to have it shining again!"
Meti gulped, trying to sound casual as he murmured, "Some foolish pet? Yeah, sounds like it. Any idea where the thing went?"
"Just so we can avoid going that direction!" Dealt interjected hastily.
The Faerie waved her hand in the direction of the Rainbow Fountain, far more interested in repairing the damaged wheel than in the suspicious activities of two Draiks.
Hurrying forward, they came to the Rainbow Fountain. However, one glimpse was enough to reassure them that the Snowickle had beaten them to it. On the luxurious, ivory clouds surrounding the fountain, various pets were in a panic. One Krawk, who seemed to be painted half royal, half speckled, was whimpering in dismay. Nearby, a small Xweetok with fragile Faerie wings was looking in horror at her lower half, which seemed to be painted Baby. The Fountain Faerie herself seemed to have turned a rather unbecoming Spotted color, and didn't seem very pleased at her makeover.
The waters from the fountain were splashed everywhere. It was rather obvious someone had done a giant bellyflop into the tranquil pool! Meti glanced around franticly.
"Did the Snowickle do this?" he babbled at the furious Faerie.
She narrowed her eyes. "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Right before he headed for Fyora's Tower!"
Meti groaned. The idea of what the horrid petpet could do to the priceless treasures stored inside didn't bear thinking about! With a meek apology to the patrons of the fountain, he followed Dealt towards the towering structure.
Most oddly, it seemed that the Snowickle hadn't damaged the building. Meti's eyes lit up.
"He could have ruined the inside," Dealt pointed out helpfully.
Meti groaned. The artefacts the tower held were valuable. He suspected that the pocket money his owner gave him wasn't going to cover millions of Neopoints damage. With an ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach, he trudged after Dealt. They wound their way around a spectacular spiral staircase, the entire journey spent anxiously awaiting signs of chaos.
However, when they reached the room at the pinnacle of the tower, a most surprising sight greeted them. The Faerie Queen, as radiant as the day was standing by the open window. In her arms, she cradled something, laughing and talking to it softly. With a start, she glanced up, relaxing and gracing the exhausted Draiks with a serene smile. Meti and Dealt, awed, dropped to their knees.
"I suspect you've come for this little trouble maker," Fyora murmured, trying to hide the smile that lingered upon her enchanting features.
Meti gulped, mumbling a rapid apology, pleading for understanding and sympathy. Hoping against hope, he told the gracious Faerie the entire story, picturing himself being thrown into some dungeon. Miserably, he reflected that in all likelihood, his sister would insist the Snowickle was imprisoned with him, just to make his life even more unpleasant.
However, when he glanced up, the Queen was smiling. Gently, she handed him the now-docile Snowickle.
"I once had a pet Floud, you know," she told him, a light giggle in her voice. "Once, he escaped and spent the entire day floating around, bumping into important Faeries. Sometimes, we just can't help the personalities of our petpets!"
Meti smiled slowly. "So... I'm not in trouble?"
Fyora laughed. "Oh, I think getting that Snowickle home is punishment enough, dear Draik."
Meti groaned. Perhaps being imprisoned would have been the better option!