It's Raining! It's Pouring! Old Faeries Are Snoring!: Part Two
The next morning was full of sunshine as usual, with not a cloud in sight. The twins were chipper and babbling even as their tummies rumbled with their unsatisfied hunger. Her mother and father were quiet, brooding over the tough decisions facing them, and Shadows had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming at them for not telling the family the truth.
After the awkward breakfast, Shadows snuck into the pantry. There wasn’t much food to pick from, but she was able to sneak some cheese and crackers. It wouldn’t last very long at all and she knew it, but with any luck, they’d find some food on the way.
When she reached their meeting place in the dried up orchards, Ehdis and Rillion were already there. Rillion had somehow managed to find a couple of oranges that were only slightly shriveled and Ehdis had the same as Shadows for food.
“Are we really going to do this?” Ehdis asked, almost breathless with excitement.
Rillion answered, “Yeah, we apparently have a death wish and dying where our family can find us just has no appeal. We’d much rather be something’s dinner.”
“Quit being so negative,” Shadows snapped. “We’ve got to do this. I overheard my parents discussing moving last night. If we want to stay here, we’ve got to make it to the faeries at Darkling Mountain.”
Rillion clearly wanted to say more but he held his tongue. Ehdis began skipping down the dirt road, she was ready to undertake their adventure. Shadows followed and could hear Rillion dragging his feet behind them.
Presently, they all were walking together at the same pace and Rillion had perked up some. It was hard to be in a sour mood when one was with their friends. The sun was overhead, blazing and hot, scorching the already dry land and making them all desperate for shade. Even if they had been willing to stop for shade, there was none to be had. Surrounding them on either side of the road were desolate dirt fields, their crops having long ago dried up. Occasionally, they’d see a distant cloud as some desperate farmer tried to encourage his plants to thrive on nothing but dirt. All that the sights around them did were confirm that they were doing the right thing.
After walking for what felt like forever, they found themselves standing before the thick forest that surrounded Darkling Mountain. The sunlight barely penetrated through the foliage above and there were no visible paths through the dried up weeds and bushes thick upon the ground.
Even Shadows felt her conviction waver as they stared at the imposing forest. Never before had they encountered such a dark, tangled looking place.
“Are we really going in there?” Ehdis’s voice quavered and they looked at her, each trying to swallow their fears and give an answer.
Surprisingly, it was not Shadows who gave the encouragement. Rillion smiled nervously and replied, “Well, it’s either that or go back and explain to our parents why we stole food. Then, after we have to face that hailstorm, we then have to face moving away. It probably looks scarier than it really is.” His last line sounded about as not believed in as it could come but it was enough to get them moving again.
It was difficult to make their way through the tangled underbrush, so finally they decided to take a break and eat some of their food.
Rillion unpeeled the shriveled looking orange and split it into parts that he passed around. After they each took a bite into the surprisingly juicy, tart fruit, he announced, “We should really keep our eyes open for berries and stuff. I know we probably won’t find any since it hasn’t rained here either but we’ve got to find more food. Or else we’re really going to be hungry.” The two girls nodded, hearing what he said but too busy savoring their fruit to really respond to his words.
A twig cracked somewhere near by, making them all jump. “Did you hear that?” Ehdis squeaked but they waved at her to be quiet. Everyone sat alert, listening for any more telltale noises of something else be in the forest with them, but there were none.
“For a moment there, I thought we were being followed.” Rillion chuckled but it seemed forced. Shadows looked around the forest; she still thought there was something out there, something watching them. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing up still and she couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t alone.
They finished up their lunch and began their trek through the woods again, forcing their way through fallen trees, crunchy bushes, and weeds as high as their waists. Presently, they realized that they were slowly but surely beginning to hike upwards. They were at the base of Darkling Mountain. Shadows was a little weirded out when she realized that. No one they knew had ever dared to venture into the forest surrounding Darkling Mountain, and not only had they done that, but they were beginning their ascent up the mountain. It was eerie to think that they were the first Neopians in their area to do such a thing in generations.
Suddenly, from a nearby tree, so quickly it was almost a blur, a creature leapt at them. In moments, it had drug Rillion off into the brush. Ehdis started screaming, running around in circles in place, while Shadows stared for a moment in shock at the spot where Rillion had disappeared.
Then she did something that was perhaps a bit braver than she had intended to be. She charged in after her friend, following the trail of broken branches and thrashing sounds. Ehdis continued to scream for a few moments more, then crashed in after her, not willing to be left alone in the dismal forest.
Whatever had taken their friend wasn’t able to move very fast for Rillion was putting up a descent fight. Soon, they came upon the two Neopets, rolling around in the scattered debris on the ground. As Shadows was debating what to do about it, the Mutant Hissi who was fighting with Rillion sat triumphantly upon him.
“Great idea this was. I knew we shouldn’t have tried the kidnapping thing. Now what are we going to do with him?” the right head barked.
“I didn’t think that far ahead,” the left head confessed then snapped, “Why are you asking me anyway? You should come up with an idea too.”
“Why is that when we get into trouble cause of whatever you’ve planned, I have to clean it up,” the right head whined and crossed their arms over its chest. Rillion struggled for a moment then stopped again, trying to catch his breath.
Shadows walked up to the Mutant Hissi who had its heads to her and tapped the left head on the shoulder. It turned to see who was touching it and she swiftly punched it, effectively knocking it off of Rillion. Quickly she helped her Scorchio friend up and then they leapt away from the Hissi.
“Oh ow, ow, ow,” the left head howled, clutching at the hit spot, then it cried out, “Why would you do that? Why would you just hit some random stranger?”
Shadows arched her eyebrow, was the mutated creature serious? “Why would you just attack some random stranger and drag them off into the forest?” she retorted, crossing her arms over her chest. Ehdis and Rillion grunted in agreement.
The right head quickly spoke up. “That was her idea, I thought it was a bad one from the beginning.”
“Such a tattletale,” the left head mumbled then added, “We were trying to scare you away. We thought that if one of your friends went missing, you’d be so frightened you’d leave our part of the woods.”
“Look how well that turned out,” the right head sneered and the glare from the left head made Shadows glad that she wasn’t in its’ place.
“Why would you want to scare us away?” Rillion asked, rubbing a few areas on him that were already beginning to bruise from his scuffle.
The right head looked around nervously, and then replied, “We thought that perhaps you were working with some of the scarier creatures in the woods. They like to bully us because we’re not mean like they are.”
“We didn’t mean to actually hurt anyone. We can’t fight the other creatures up front, it’s just not possible,” the left head moaned.
“They’re way bigger and meaner than we could even dream of being,” the right head added and then gave a shudder to emphasize her point.
An idea was forming in Shadows head and she pulled her friends aside. “What if we take this poor thing back with us? I don’t think they’re actually bad and the forest is definitely nowhere I’d want to be left if I knew that there were things that could overpower me.”
“You don’t think it’s actually bad?” Rillion sounded disgusted, “You didn’t get the stuffing beat out of you for some ill thought out plan.”
“Rillion,” Ehdis chided, “You’ve got to look at it from their point of view. They were scared and apparently with good reason. I think that we should invite them back with us.”
“And if we don’t get the faeries to make it rain, then what? We have not just one but another pair of mouths to feed that none of our parents can afford to do so,” Rillion gushed.
Shadows was not about to be swayed. “Let me worry about that part. I’m going to invite them back with us.” With that being said, they turned back to the Mutant Hissi who was still clutching at the left head and Shadows announced, “We’d like you to come with us. Where we live, there aren’t bigger and meaner creatures to bully you around. It’s just a simple farming community where we all help each other out. We’re trying to reach the faeries so that we can ask for rain to save our families from having to move cause of the drought. Do you want to come with us.”
The Hissi leaped up as if it had been sitting on some hot coals. “We would love to, if you’ll have us.” The right head was almost laughing with enthusiasm. “By the way, we’re Myshinki, but I go by Ki and my troublesome comrade here goes by Myshi.”
“Well, hello, Myshi and Ki, I’m Shadows and this is Ehdis and Rillion.” She pointed to her two friends and felt confident that by inviting the Hissi along with them, she was doing the right thing. She just hoped that her family felt the same way when they met Myshi and Ki.
Their new friend didn’t have any idea where they would meet the faeries but she was more than willing to help them look. Unfortunately, their little run in with the Hissi had cost them some valuable time and the sun had almost set. Shadows watched the limited light penetrating through the leaves begin to fade and realized with a sinking misgiving in the pit of her belly, they were going to have to spend the night in the forest.
To be continued...