The Faerie Dilemma: Part Five
“Ouch!” gasped Shirin as she lifted her foot up from the ground. “I think I stepped in... was that barbed wire? How is that out here?”
“Shirin, I told you to stay in near the scratch card kiosk, but you insisted on coming!” Nolion snapped. “If you’re going to stay, then stop complaining!”
The white Shoyru flinched and looked down, and Nolion immediately felt sorry for what he'd done. He was tired from lack of sleep, his muscles were sore, and neither of them had eaten for what felt like several years. His fur and feathers were dirty and matted, and Shirin looked as if she were about to burst into tears at any moment. They had to take a rest, but at the same time he felt as if they did go and sleep, the world would end while they were snoozing away!
They pushed forward, and Nolion nearly lost sight of Shirin as she shivered in the snow, blending in quite well. He was just glad that her owner hadn’t painted her after what they were walking around in.
“If she were here,” the Shoyru said, sniffling from the cold, “wouldn’t we have found her by now?”
“She wouldn’t be sitting around in Happy Valley!” he gasped. “She’d probably be hiding somewhere deep in the caves!”
Shirin sneezed, and Nolion sighed, letting his wings droop.
“Come on, let’s see if there’s a house somewhere around here.”
The Shoyru seemed to brighten at those words, and they trudged forward with a new energy to their steps.
Shirin blinked as she moved, each step full of the biting pain from the cold. She shivered under her sweater and rubbed her arms, trying to warm herself up. After several gulps of the dry, freezing air, she coughed and fell down with a whump. Her mind was fuzzy, and she felt horribly sick. Something was wrong. She shouldn’t be feeling that way!
“Shirin?” asked Nolion, bounding to her side. “Shirin, are you okay?”
The Shoyru shivered, and the Eyrie felt a twinge of fear in his heart. What should he do?
He lay down next to her, offering up some of his warmth as he spread out his enormous wings over the small form. Tears came to his eyes. They should’ve come better prepared! He should’ve decided to stop once they reached the base of the mountain!
For the longest time they stayed there as snow blazed over them, screaming its indifference in their ears. Then Nolion’s eyes began to lose their focus, and after a while he couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a moment. The last thing he saw before he went unconscious was a tall figure walking towards them in the distance, covered in strange furs.
Warmth. That was the first thing she knew as she woke up. The next thing she realized was that furs covered her body, holding in the head to give to the beings beneath it. Snaps and pops of a nearby fire filled the air, as well as the sounds of somebody shuffling about, doing things such as putting away dishes and shoving chairs against a table.
Why was she here? Something in her memory filled her mind, and then she was seeing it almost as if she were back there again.
“Nolion, what’s the problem?” Booville asked as she peered into the room. Outside huge, fat snowflakes were falling, showing off the fact that it was the month of Celebrating.
The Eyrie lay on his bed, the tufts of fur on his head flattened against his skull as he rested it on his front paws, looking over at the window. The sound of wailing came from downstairs, and Booville was trying to find out the reason why.
“Nothing,” he said sulkily. “Please go!”
“Not until I find out the reason why you’re being so grumpy,” the girl said seriously.
The stars on his pelt quivered as he took in a slow breath.
“The snow,” he said. “That’s why.”
“What’s wrong with the snow?” asked Booville.
Nolion hesitated before saying, “I used to go to Terror Mountain every year with my old owner, and we’d stay there during the whole school vacation.”
“And the snow reminds you of that?” the girl asked. She walked forward and sat on the bed next to him, running her hands in his hair. “I’m so sorry, honey, but you still shouldn’t take it out on your sister. Maybe you should write it out instead, you know, like in a journal. It’d be better for you, and for the rest of us.”
A slow smile began to spread across the Eyrie’s beak.
Ah. That was why she was here. Booville sat up slowly, pushing away the furs and sitting up. Shuffling across the ground was an old, bespectacled mutant Bori wearing a large red and white checkered afghan across his shoulders, and there were a couple of white streaks in his fur, showing age. She almost laughed at the creature, but she had never been a person to mock other Neopians—except villains—and she didn’t dare.
Naellie was asleep on the wooden floor beside her, and much to her surprise, Nolion and Shirin were there too, snoring away in the comfortable home. The Bori didn’t even seem to take notice of her as he moved around, pouring hot liquid into a few mugs. When he was done, he grabbed the pot that’d been holding the liquid and brought it back over to rest above the fire.
Everything was silent as he went to grab a couple of steaming hot mugs and the next thing she knew, he was shuffling his way towards her. He offered her the cup and she took it gratefully, downing some of the scalding chocolaty liquid and enjoying the sensation as it slid down her throat.
“What possessed you to get lost on the mountain, miss?” he asked in an old, scratchy voice.
“I was looking for my Eyrie and the Shoyru, sir,” she said softly, not wanting to disturb the sleeping pets behind her. “Only I think you seemed to have found them for me.”
“Why did they run off?” the Bori asked, as if to himself. “Was she a bad owner?”
“Nolion took off with Shirin,” Booville said. “They went after a bad guy who’s had... past ties with him. I’m not a bad owner, sir.”
The sound came from the starry Eyrie, who was just beginning to stir. He yawned and then turned over, burying his face in a pillow.
“Who are you, anyway, sir?” asked the girl.
“You must be following the person that the Kougra was following,” the Bori said, ignoring her question as he sipped on his drink.
“Kougra?” asked Booville. “You mean Amaida was here? Oh, dear.”
Apparently Nolion was right on his assumption where Rajani was. Booville shuddered, because she knew that if Amaida had been here, then the faerie was probably near, and that if she was, they were going to have a hard time escaping without letting the earth faerie know that they were here.
“I am Gereon,” he said, bowing his head low. “I’m one of the pets working on this mountain to find pets that have wandered off of the beaten path.”
Shirin began to stir, and sat up from beneath her furs, rubbing her eyes sleepily. The Bori immediately went to go and grab a cup for her, and moments later, Nolion had awoke. Soon the two pets were chugging down two cups of hot chocolate, and the Eyrie was eyeing his owner warily.
Booville was giving him a stern glare that would’ve scared the pants off of the Pant Devil.
“Hi Mom,” he said meekly.
“What were you thinking?” the girl demanded, in a voice loud enough to cause Naellie to stir. “How could you drag off Shirin and go off on a dangerous adventure?”
“I didn’t really drag Shirin,” Nolion protested. “She followed me!”
“I don’t care who followed who!” said Booville, her face flushed. “The point is that you disobeyed Amaida, and the Faerie Queen!”
Nolion looked as if he were about to speak, and then he looked down. What could he say? How could he convince his owner that he was doing the right thing?
“Rajani was my owner,” he muttered. “She’s my problem, and I have to deal with her. I don’t care what you, or the faerie queen say. She’s my responsibility.”
“Oh, Nolion,” said Booville, some of the anger fading away. “The Queen’s working on it. Leave the problem to the big guys.”
“I can’t,” he said. “You don’t understand. What if it was Naellie causing the trouble—though I know it would never happen—or your brother?”
“I...” Booville took in a deep breath, and then looked up at her eldest pet. “I guess you’re right. But, dear, how would you beat her anyway?”
The air was silent for a moment except for the storm that was roaring outside, and the crackle of the fire. For a while it stayed that way, until several loud thuds made themselves known on the door.
“Now who could that be?” asked Gereon, setting down his mug and shuffling past them to the door. “I don’t recall inviting anyone.”
His claws gripped the doorknob and twisted it, yanking the door open at the same time.
To be continued...