Betrayed: Part One
She had to keep running, without looking back. And they would keep pursuing her no matter how far she ran. Her tiny legs couldn't carry her so far - and the fact that she also had a tiny frame was also not very helpful.
The young Xweetok soon gave up and collapsed behind a bush, trying to regain her breath. She was panting heavily, and she was covered in mud. But she could still hear them; the pounding of their feet, which gradually grew louder as they came closer.
A small Floud trailed after her, panting as well as it tried to draw in sharp gasps of air. It was a weak effort; the little petpet let out a thin wailing sound, as if it were showing the Xweetok how exhausted it was.
"Hush, Angel," the Xweetok whispered, stroking its soft pink fur. "We must be silent. Otherwise they will hear us." Her voice shook and she struggled to control it. Pain and fear was making her weaker and weaker. Gazing up, she saw her green hair hung over her eyes; what a state she must look right now.
Finally they passed. She heard their voices; peering through the bushes, she watched her old owner shrug his shoulders. The Techo facing him stomped the ground angrily. He was carrying a huge net, but even he looked exhausted. It had been a long run. The yellow Techo's thick white hair was streaked with mud and a few leaves from the bushes he had pushed through to try and capture the Xweetok. Her old owner didn't look a great deal better - his eyes were tired, and by the way he hung his head low and sagged his shoulders was shocking, even to the green Xweetok.
"Let's give up for today." The man walked slowly over to the Techo, gave him a gentle nudge. "Elou is gone now. We don't know where she has gone and by now she could be miles away. I know she's only newborn, but she's fast, even for her age." He met the Techo's gaze and frowned.
At last, the Techo snorted and began to walk away. "Call her by her full name, Aelouro, please," he grumbled as he walked. The man followed. Elou couldn't believe her luck; her owner and the nasty Techo from the Pound hadn't managed to find her! Even after a long and tiring run, leaving her in an exhausted and battered state...
Once she was certain that the two had gone, she crawled out from underneath the bush and dragged herself into the center of a clearing. Angel followed her, looking concerned. But Elou felt victorious, despite how tired she felt inside. She had outrun her owner and the Pound Techo. What an achievement!
But how long could she go on?
Fang padded through the streets of Neopia Central, watching the other Neopets pass him by. They milled about with useless conversations, pausing to look at little things in the shops here and there before carrying on again. He flicked his tail dismissively and paused in his tracks when he came across the Bakery.
Oh, the Bakery; his favourite shop in Neopia. Yes, all of Neopia. The food that the Breadmaster stocked in his shop was absolutely mouthwatering to the young red Gelert.
Taking this time as an opportunity to look around the Bakery - his owner Rosie had asked him to buy some things for her while she went through her neomail - Fang slipped through the door and went inside.
"Yo," said the Breadmaster as he walked in. Fang rolled his eyes; that was basically all that the blue Kacheek could say.
Instead of stopping to chat with the Breadmaster, Fang pondered everything in stock. All of it looked delicious, but he wanted to treat himself to something just beyond incredible. What was his favourite food, he kept asking himself.
By now he was debating between a Caramel Techo Cookie, a Chocolate Jetsam Mousse Cake or a Lemon Lenny Sandwich Cookie. He gave into his cravings and took the Chocolate Jetsam Mousse Cake.
"I'll give you that if you give me 770 Neopoints," the Breadmaster declared as Fang approached with the cake.
Pondering for a moment, Fang answered, "How about 748?"
The Breadmaster stared at him for a few moments before giving a cheerful nod, and the two exchanged items.
Feeling more joyful, Fang padded out of the Bakery, head held high with the cake in the backpack that was slung over his shoulder.
Elou sat with Angel for many moments, listening to the birds singing around her. She wondered what she should do; return to Neopia Central, where she belonged, but where she could easily be caught and thrown in the Pound? Or should she run somewhere else, somewhere far beyond her imagination?
It was many long and agonizing moments before Elou realized the sun had crossed the steadily-darkening sky and was going down. She sat up, shocked, and wondered what she was going to do. Her stomach was rumbling in a painful way to tell her how hungry she was, but there was nothing she had to eat. In fact, she had come with nothing but her petpet Angel.
"What shall we do?" the Xweetok murmured to her petpet, gently stroking its triangular-shaped pink ears.
Angel gazed up at her with huge beady blue eyes, as if she were telling her to move on. Elou could do nothing but let out a gentle sigh. She was still young, and clueless; how was she going to find a new home? Especially with all these troubles lurking around. For all she knew, she could take one step onto the street and someone could kidnap her. The thought sent a shudder down her little spine.
Suddenly, her Floud leaped up and began bouncing away. Startled, Elou followed, finding at least a little energy to run again. Before she knew it, she was sprinting through the trees until at last they opened up into the Neopian Bazaar. She came skidding to a halt when she saw Angel seated directly in front of her.
"Angel, don't!" she gasped, grabbing the Floud and hugging her tight in her arms. "You really scared me. You're all I have left. I don't want to lose you."
And then she took note of her surroundings. This was not like the Neopian Plaza; it was far more busy, with Neopets buzzing everywhere, milling about with all kinds of conversations. One Neopet caught her eye. A small red Gelert - probably not much bigger than her - exiting the Bakery with a green backpack slung over his shoulder. He walked with such calm dignity, such tranquility, that it made Elou curious. How could one be so... calm? Was this Neopet anything like her? Obviously not, by the pride in his walk.
For many moments she sat there, watching all of these Neopets buzz past her, and began to take in interest in some of them.
"Stop criticizing me!" Seth yowled, feeling the fur along his neck and shoulders rise.
"Then stop acting like a baby!" his owner retorted with such ferocity that Seth could not remember the last time she was so angry. "I asked you a simple question, and you refused. How can you be so... so stubborn?"
Her fists clenched, her face was red. But most of all was the furious look in her usually-lively eyes; they were a blazing blue fire, which just made Seth twice as mad.
"You're comparing me to that... that pathetic excuse of a Hissi," Seth growled, lashing his tail. He scratched the ground with his forepaws, unable to contain his anger for much longer. "I can't believe you, Rosie. Why are you-"
She broke him off again. "I can't believe you, Seth_Brightfire," she hissed. "All I asked you was to run a few errands for me. Wash the clothes, clean the dishes, dust a few of the shelves..." By now Rosie was staring at the ceiling, as if she was trying to control her anger. "And you fire up at me! Seth, why are you acting like this? You're usually willing to help me out. As for Julie's pet Hissi - he's hopeless, which is what you're acting like right now!"
"But it's not my turn!" Seth insisted, raising his voice dramatically. He felt glad when Rosie winced. "It's your turn. And Blaze is worse than me - I don't know why you'd compare me to him! You've been so unfair to me lately. Sometimes I get the impression that I'm not wanted anymore!"
Not waiting for his shocked owner to respond, the blue Lupe whipped around and stalked out of the house. He slammed the door behind him and felt slightly reassured by the loud noise it made. He knew his fur was still bristling and his eyes still blazed, so he forced the blue fur to on his shoulders to lie flat and tried to calm himself down with a little reasoning. Maybe he was being stubborn after all. He should really help around the house, but... lately Rosie seemed to be neglecting him and Fang, and he couldn't figure out why. She didn't spend enough time with them anymore; instead she was always going through her neomail, or she spent most of her time out.
And he had just had his first official argument with her. But he couldn't go back in now. Rosie had driven him to fury. He had to leave for some time, have a little alone time.
With a loud sigh, Seth began to walk, his paws unconsciously leading him to where Fang had gone - to the Neopian Bazaar.
To be continued...