Attack of the Trees
The monster stood, its huge, gnarled arms reaching out and grasping through the air towards her. She let out an involuntary shriek at the sight of it, and, mustering up her courage, she dealt the beast a powerful kick to the stomach before running off like crazy.
“WHAT THE HECK?” The outraged cry came from the front of a small Neohome, nestled in a quiet corner of Neopia Central. A starry Acara wearing an apron stomped out of the Neohome’s kitchen and into the “Beast’s Lair” (a.k.a The Living Room). In one corner of the fairly bare, wooden room, a small red Usul cowered, her tail curled up around her. In the other corner lay an overturned Scary House Tree, one of its gnarled branches broken off on the ground near it.
“The Monster!” the Usul cried, pointing to the tree. “I-it t-t-tried to eat me!”
The Acara sighed, shaking her head. “Mallanyah?”
“That’s a tree.”
Mallanyah let out a tiny little “Oh,” before getting up and walking over to her mother. Still shaking from her frightening experience with the house tree, she wrapped her arms tightly around the Acara’s waist. “Where’d the tree come from, Star?” she whispered.
“Remember yesterday when Mummy went shopping?” Star asked, briefly reverting to third-person speech for her young daughter. “That was one of the things I got. It was at someone’s shop, even though it originally came from Neovia.”
The Usul frowned. “I don’t like Neovia. It’s too scary,” she said decidedly.
Star sighed. “Fine then, Mel. Can you let go of me now, please? Mummy has to go make breakfast.” The Usul released her grasp to let her mother tread back into the kitchen.
As Star walked off, another Neopet came walking in from the upstairs floor, still wearing pajamas and rubbing sleep out of his eyes. “Whazzagoinon?” the yellow Aisha asked, having heard the commotion.
“The tree tried to eat me,” Mallanyah said in a sickeningly innocent voice.
The Aisha stared at the Usul, all the sleep gone from his eyes. “’Ow did a tree try to eat you?” he asked, taken aback. Then again, his sister was sometimes just weird. “You know what, never mind. I don’t think I want to know. Any idea what Mum’s cooking for breakfast?”
Mallanyah shook her head. “I dunno. How about you just go ask her, Trenavine?”
With a shrug, Trenavine walked into the kitchen to do just that.
Moments later, the mother in question, Star, poked her head out of the kitchen. “By the way, Mel, we’re going to go shopping as a family today. Er... In Neovia.”
A few hours later, an assembly of six pets stood before their mother, Star, outside their Neohome. Mallanyah and Trenavine were there, along with Chancler the Christmas Kougra, Xylandrial, a cloud Xweetok, a Green Wocky called Zellandriah and a yellow Bori called Allpollo.
“Okay, everyone!” Star said, clapping her hands. “We’re going to Neovia—”
“We noticed,” the Kougra pointed out.
“—Chancler, let me speak,” Star said firmly. “Like I said, we’re going to Neovia just for some innocent shopping. I want you all to behave, don’t break anything,” she looked pointedly at Trenavine, “Be respectful and not sassy,” her gaze shot over to Chancler, “And remember that trees cannot hurt you.”
Mallanyah looked up at her mother, her eyes wide. “Yes they can!” she cried fearfully. Star sighed again.
“C’mon, everyone, let’s just go. We’ll call an Eyrie cab.” With that she walked briskly forward, but Mallanyah lagged behind.
“I don’t wanna go! Neovia’s too scary!” she cried shrilly.
Star walked over to her and gave her a hug. “Don’t worry, Mel, I’ll be here. Besides, Neovia’s a very nice place. The only bad thing about it is their house trees.”
“Let’s never use an Eyrie cab again.”
The seven dizzy Neopets were deep in the touristy section of the Haunted Woods, three (snickering) Eyries behind them. Suffice to say, the ride hadn’t been the greatest.
Star paid them each the required amount of Neopoints, and then beckoned her sons and daughters to follow her.
“I’m sure they just did that because they were grumpy! I mean, would you like to be used as a pack animal every day? I bet if you were, you’d be tempted to flip the Neopets riding you upside down every five seconds!” Xylandrial said as they set off through the woods.
“Oh, sure, Xy,” Zellandriah said arrogantly, plucking daintily at her green fur. “You do know they chose to take that job, right? If those three hated their job that much they wouldn’t have chosen to work as 'Eyrie Cabs' in the first place. Why can’t you just accept that not everyone is nice?” the Wocky said scornfully.
Xylandrial stuck out her tongue at her sister. “Why do you have to be so pessimistic?” she countered. Zellandriah curled her lip and glared. Thus ensued a wild flurry of useless bantering between the two sisters; retorts of things such as “Spardel-brained Snot Nose!” and “Tree-Hugging, Moronic Weak Peace-Lover!” Eventually Star had to stop them; not only were they being mean, but the whole skirmish was over something so small it was plain annoying, and the insults themselves were getting too brainless to bear.
Once the two were finally silenced, the group was able to set out for Neovia.
An hour, three changes of direction, two more fights, and one creepy path later, the group was nowhere near Neovia.
“M-maybe we should head back?” Allpollo the Bori stammered.
Chancler rolled his eyes. “Al, stop being a scaredy-Aisha!” (To which Trenavine responded with an indignant ‘Huff!”) The Bori, on the other hand, just continued to tremble and moved closer to Star.
“Okay, everyone, we need to put our heads together and think,” Star said. The three boys rolled their eyes. It was like Star to be overly optimistic in bad situations.
“Now,” Star began, “Which way did we come from?”
The six Neopets looked around them, then at the forked path right behind them. They had come across at least five forked paths, and they hadn’t thought to mark the direction they came from. Put simply, they were lost.
“We’re lost!” Mallanyah whined, stating the obvious. She clung desperately to Star and began to cry and whine despairingly.
“Don’t worry, Mallanyah, we’re not lost,” Star cooed, rustling Mallanyah’s ears with a paw. “We’re just a little bit... off track.”
“No. We’re lost,” Chancler replied flatly. Star eyed him with a ‘shut your mouth now or else’ look.
Letting go of Mallanyah, Star looked at her other children. “Well, let’s just keep going, alright? We have to run into something eventually.”
“Yeah. Probably’ll be a Werelupe,” Chancler said, grinning devilishly. “Then it’ll eat us all up! Of course, it’ll always be the smallest ones to go first.”
Mallanyah whimpered, backing up into Star.
“Chancler, shut your mouth, now! We will not be eaten,” Star said firmly.
“Yeah, right. Bye, Mallanyah! It was nice knowing you!” Chancler said, turning to Mallanyah and waving goodbye.
Star growled. “Stop it, Chancler!” Grabbing Mallanyah’s paw, she turned on her heel and continued to march down the path, not waiting for the others to catch up.
“Great job, moron. You’ve gotten ‘er mad!” Trenavine cried, stomping on Chancler’s paw. Chancler yelped and jumped back from Trenavine, holding his paw protectively.
“Yeah, sure. She’ll be over it in two seconds, there’s nothing to worry about,” he said with a wave of his paw. “She’s not even mad, she just doesn’t want me to have any fun with Mallanyah!”
Xylandrial scoffed and Trenavine scowled. Both turned away from Chancler and marched away after Star. Zellandriah glared at him scornfully and Allpollo shrugged and followed them.
Chancler only rolled his eyes and took the rear of their group.
They had only been walking about ten minutes more when a scream issued from the front of the group, filled with all the terror of Neopia. Those lagging behind quickly caught up, and it was a somewhat terrible scene that met their eyes.
Before them was a group of even more gnarled trees than before, but there was something different about them... they had eyes. And mouths. And more important than any of that was the fact that one of them was holding Mallanyah aloft in its wooded grasp.
“HELP!” Mallanyah shrieked, her eyes filling with tears. Star was already beneath the tree, attempting to grab Mallanyah’s feet. Sadly, Star wasn’t very tall and couldn’t reach Mallanyah.
“LET GO OF HER, you stupid plant!” Star screeched, kicking the tree’s trunk. This seemed to be a very bad move on Star’s part, for immediately the tree lifted Mallanyah higher, and the other trees around them awoke, screaming and thrashing their branches around wildly.
As it so happens, the other five Neopets were caught in the middle of this. Xylandrial screamed and ducked wildly, attempting to make her way to Mallanyah. Trenavine was doing basically the same thing, while Allpollo cowered behind a rather large rock and Zellandriah screamed at him to do something.
Chancler, having been at the back of the group, was in the area least frenzied by sentient trees out for some twisted form of revenge. The Kougra looked around at the fray as the realization began to dawn on him that the rest of his family couldn’t do much. He was the tallest, wasn’t he? And didn’t he have the sharpest claws, and wasn’t he the most battle trained? He furrowed his brow and took a deep breath, then lunged straight towards Mallanyah.
Hissing at the trees, he sank his claws into the trunk of the terrible tree and scampered up. The tree wasn’t very happy with this.
It swung another one of its branches around, missing Chancler’s large head by inches. “Mall!” Chancler cried. “Shut your mouth and I’ll save you!”
Mallanyah stared at him, figured he had no reason for telling her to shush, and continued screaming. Chancler frowned and laid his ears back, then scooted valiantly towards the branch holding Mallanyah.
“DIE, USELESS HUNK OF JUNK!” Chancler screamed, and without a second thought he jumped onto the branch with Mallanyah.
It was at that precise moment Star noticed Chancler. She decided now wasn’t the time to scold him for being rash, and instead caught his attention. “Chancler! Just jump on the branch and get it lower so I can reach Mallanyah, then jump down!”
Chancler nodded and did as she said, bouncing up and down as he clung desperately to the branch. The tree continuously tried to knock him off, but in doing so it came to close to hitting itself and decided the silly Neopet wouldn’t be able to overpower it anyway, so it just continued to hold Mallanyah aloft.
Sadly for the tree, Chancler was bouncing up and down wildly now, and the branch began to crack just a hair... then a little bit more... and suddenly a loud crack rent the air and Chancler and Mallanyah hurtled towards the ground.
The other trees stopped and for the most part stared at the branch, then at Chancler. They looked very unhappy now. As for the tree which had just lost its branch... well, it was the farthest thing from happy that ever existed. It was infuriated.
“Run!” Star cried. It didn’t take much for her children to listen to her. All at once, the seven Neopets raced away like the wind at the exact moment the tree went into a flurry of knocking their branches around and screaming. For the trees, this only resulted in them hitting each other, and they quickly stopped, realizing that the Neopets were gone.
Some miles away, still in the heart of the woods, stood the seven panting Neopets.
Star looked at Chancler and smiled, then hugged him happily. “You’re a hero, Chancler!”
Mallanyah joined her mother in squeezing Chancler.
“Help...” he muttered, struggling from their grasp. Star pulled away, and Chancler spoke again before she could. “It was nothing, Mom. Really. Nothing.”
Star shook her head. “Whatever you say. So, if it was nothing, I guess that means that I shouldn’t take you to that Tyrannian Concert you’ve been begging to go to.”
Chancler shook his head vigorously. “No! I mean, yes, it was something! Gaze upon the hero of the day!” Chancler cried suddenly, spreading out his arms in mock valiance.
Star rolled her eyes and turned to Mallanyah. “You all right, honey?”
“Yes,” Mallanyah muttered, still whimpering. “But, Mummy, trees really are really really evil!”
Star sighed and stared around at the others. “She’s never going to get over this, is she?”
Author's Note: I made it into the NT! Wh00t! Please Neomail me with any comments and/or constructive criticism!