This is What Life's About
Kivier sat by the window in the living room, his eyes concentrating on the azure sky. "He’ll be here soon!" he thought.
"Kivier come play with us!" Fyste called as he ran over to him, attempting to hand him a plastic sword. "Obiad, Schnorf and I are playing! We’re gonna re-enact the great Krawk Island vs. Maraqua battle! It’ll be fun!"
"I can't," Kivier responded absently as he continued to look at the sky in thought. He felt his eyes start to glaze over and he quickly shook his head and blinked in an attempt to clear it. "He will be here soon," he whispered.
The Pteri flew through the air, his wings outstretched and slicing through the wind in a graceful dance of feathers and breeze, his body singing with contentment. His feathers were ravaged by the harsh winds he had encountered on his journey; the delicate purples and blues that painted his body seemed faded under the dirt and dust that coated him. His tired face carried the woe-be-gone look of a long time traveler and the faint trace of exhaustion rimmed his eyes.
Despite this, the Faerie Pteri had never looked more beautiful. His talons clenched at the air as he prepared to land. His eyes slid over the sweeping landscape of frost and snow until he found what he was looking for. Then he dove. A cry of joy escaped his beak as he spiraled downwards; watching as the earth rushed up to greet his ever quickening decent. His feet pressed into the soft snow covering the ground; his body quivering with delight as he looked around.
"Karl!" he heard someone cry; quickly he whipped his head around and saw a Baby Hissi gazing at him, his eyes wide with awe. "You're back in time!" the Hissi exclaimed as he rushed forward.
"Of course I made it, kiddo," the Pteri said, a smile creeping across his face as he bent down and hugged his little brother. "Want a ride?"
Kivier nodded, a grin plastered across his face as Karl bent his majestic neck down so that he could scurry on. As tired as he was, he knew that Kiv always looked forward to the short rides on his back.
Karl’s feet lifted off the ground as he fiercely beat his wings; their feathers bleeding into a kaleidoscopic swirl of color as he did. His little brother felt extremely light; his delicate body weighing almost nothing at all. The Pteri smiled to himself as he thought of the tiny Hissi who was so carefully perched upon him.
Kivier wove his hands deep into the plumage of Karl’s back to steady himself, carefully trying not to pull to hard on any single feather as he did. He bent his head back and let out a whoop of joy as the icy air slid around the both of them; surely this was the definition of happiness.
After a few minutes up in the air, Karl started circling the ground in search of the perfect spot to land. When he found it, they slowly sank down through the air, and with a few flicks with his wings the pair landed gracefully, Kivier tumbling off his back and into the fallen snow as the Pteri touched the ground.
"I missed you," the Hissi said as he kissed Karl on his feathery cheek.
"I missed you too," Karl replied.
"Come on now," Kivier urged. "Let's go inside."
Kivier took Karl by the wing and together they traveled to their family’s holiday home at the top of Terror Mountain. As Kivier opened the door, Karl's empty stomach immediately leapt in anticipation at the sights and smells that accosted him. The delicious scent of newly cooked potatoes and a turkey roasting in the oven hung about the air and made his mouth water in anticipation. Candy canes were strewn about the living room and a large gingerbread house sat in the middle of the dining room table in. On Karl’s closer inspection, the gingerbread house revealed a huge bite that had been taken out of one of the turrets. He turned to look at Kivier inquiringly and the baby Hissi grinned sheepishly in response.
"I was hungry!" Kiv said. “Dinner was taking forever and it looked really, really good!"
Karl chuckled. That was exactly something Kivier would do.
Kivier shivered slightly, regretting his earlier decision to go out into the snow without a jacket. Karl noticed his brother’s trembling and smiled again at the little Hissi. "Time for some hot chocolate, you reckon?" he asked.
Kiv nodded, his eyes dancing in happy anticipation. Karl always made the best hot chocolate.
"I miss this," Karl thought as he sat around the dinner table. His nineteen siblings were all there, tossing food at one another and exuberantly chortling at the top of their lungs. Kivier was sitting next to him, his elbows sticking out awkwardly as he cut into his turkey. Fyrste, his Usukiboy brother, was on the other side of Kivier and constantly trying to show him how to eat properly.
"No, Kivier, lower your elbows and make swift cutting motions. No, Kivier, that's wrong! Do it right! Your knife is like a mini sword; handle it with care. NO, Kivier! That's wrong." Fyrste had always loved everything to do with swords and chivalry. If there was someone in need of help, he was always the first to step in. Unfortunately, he didn't always have the right amount of patience or an expertise in table manners.
"Hey, Fyrste," Karl called over to him. "How about continuing the lesson another day, eh?"
Fyrste shot a restrained smile at Karl and then turned to dig into his own plate of food.
"Thanks," Kivier whispered gratefully.
After dinner, Kivier came running up to Karl with a game in his hand.
"Keyquest, Karl? Please?" he asked. His eyes shining in excitement as the overhead lights bounced off of them.
"Sure Kiv," Karl said as they sat down to play.
"No one else will play with me," Kivier said as he grabbed his first key. "They say it's a silly game, but I like it!"
"It's not a silly game," Karl answered. "And you’re very good at it."
After several rounds, Karl looked up at his younger brother to see his face pinched in sadness and his eyes glassy as he tried to hold back tears.
"Kiv, what's wrong?" he queried, looking concerned.
"You’re leaving tomorrow... after presents... right?" As he spoke, tears began to pour down his freckled cheeks.
"Well, I had planned on it. I miss flying. I can't sit still; it makes me restless," Karl explained.
"I don't - I don't want you to go!" Kivier wailed and covered his eyes. "I- I- I miss you too much!"
Karl sighed softly; this had always been a tough subject with Kivier. It seemed that every time he came home, it was that much harder for Kivier to accept that he had to leave again.
"But, Kiv," Karl said, “what’re the best things about Easter and Christmas and your birthday and a lot of other things?"
"Seeing you," Kivier stated matter-of-factly.
"Exactly!" Karl nodded. "That's what the holidays are all about. Having all your family come from miles around and enjoying time with them. If I were here all the time, wouldn’t the holidays feel less special?"
"Well... I do enjoy your postcards too," he said as he raised his head and tried to brush away the remnants of his tears.
"See, Kiv? Instead of seeing it as a bad thing that I'm leaving, maybe you can focus on the good. I’m here now and I’ll come home again soon to see you. That is the magic of the holidays. It's not presents or Christmas trees... it's being around the Neopets that you love."
Kivier considered this for a second. "Uh... I still get presents, right?"
Karl laughed and squeezed his little brother tight. "You're a good kid, Kiv. Now let's finish off this game and go to bed. The sooner we wake up, the sooner we can open those presents that you might be getting!"
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. The rays of light reflected off the snow giving all of Terror Mountain that glow that only comes in the winter season. As soon as Kivier opened his eyes, he let out a little squeal of excitement and ran into Karl's room. Without checking to see if Karl was asleep, nor caring if he was, Kivier jumped on top of him.
"Karl! Karl, it's Christmas! Let's go get our stockings!"
Karl moaned a little bit as he was jerked awake and looked up at Kivier bleary-eyed. "Stockings it is," he mumbled, "after a bit more sleep." He proceeded to close his eyes again and snuggle back under the blankets.
"No, no, now! Now! Now!" Kivier whined and pulled the blankets off of Karl in an attempt to get him moving.
Karl shuddered and sat up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. "Fine!"
"Yay!" Kivier shouted and grabbed Karl's wing, practically dragging him out of bed and to the door. They ran down the stairs as fast as Kivier could go and plopped themselves down next to the Christmas tree. The previously empty space under the tree was now overflowing with gifts that twinkled in their many-colored wrappings.
Kivier grabbed at his stocking and dumped all the contents out upon the floor. "Wow! Candy canes and fake snow! Oh wow and a new background and a woolen scarf! Hooray!" he said with glee.
The morning passed more quickly than Kivier or Karl could have ever imagined. As soon as the rest of the family had gotten up, they proceeded to open presents and sing a few carols, their voices ringing through the warm house. As they laughed and sang, time slipped away, each minute melting away faster than the last.
It was time for Karl to leave far too soon for either of them. At about 3 o'clock, he knew he had to take off if he wanted to reach Mystery Island in time for the evening festivities. Kivier came out with him into the snow to say goodbye.
"Okay, Kiv," Karl said as he prepared to take off. "I will be home soon for your birthday!"
Kivier looked up at Karl, his green eyes glistening with tears. "You’re my favourite Christmas present, Karl. You always are."
"I love you, Kiv."
"I love you too."
Karl stretched out his wings gracefully, raised his head and prepared for flight but, before he took off, he felt a little tug at his wing.
"Do you have time for one last little flight with me on your back?" Kivier pleaded.
"I guess so, Kiv." Karl nodded and for the second time in twenty-four hours bent his neck down so that the Hissi could get on. Clenching his talons into the snow, he took off. On Karl's back, Kivier shrieked with delight as he felt the winds welcoming embrace wrap around him and his brother.
"This is what life's all about," Kivier thought to himself.
Silently Karl agreed.
I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday season and enjoys the Holiday Issue of the NT!