Life in a Snowy Shadow: Part One
A note to the reader: This story is set far back in Neopian history, in Year 4, when I had not yet started playing Neopets. Therefore, I don’t know everything about that time. I apologise for any inaccuracies that may occur, such as the mention of a feature, Petpet or item that had not yet existed then. I hope you enjoy the story, nevertheless!
My name’s Kay, or, at least, that’s what I was once called by my family. I am a Petpet -- to be exact, a Snowbunny. If you look at it from my point of view, that’s probably the worst Petpet to be of all. Why? Well, I shall tell you. This is my story, from as far back as I can remember...
* * *
My eyes opened slowly as I noticed all the shuffling and movement around me. I sniffed the air and wrinkled my nose as I realised that the familiar smell of home was gone. Instead, I could smell...What was it? Something leathery... warm... I waited until my eyes cleared from how foggy they usually were after I slept.
When my surroundings finally came into focus, I let out a squeak in surprise. I was in a wooden crate, filled with many other plain white Snowbunnies, like me! We were very cramped, and had barely enough space to breathe. I felt my anxiety rocket. Where was I? Where were my mother and sister? All the Snowbunnies around me looked unfamiliar. I had to ask someone. What was going on?
So I crept (if you called that creeping, forcing myself past the strangers) to a slightly less crowded area, where an old Snowbunny was sitting alone. He had his head down, and wasn’t speaking to anyone. Everyone else around him was talking and chattering with a mix of emotions, but he wasn’t. He seemed to be the best one to ask about what was going on.
I finally managed to squeeze into the spot beside him. The old Snowbunny was still staring blankly out into space. I felt a chill run down my spine, but ignored it -- I wanted answers.
Clearing my throat, I said, “Excuse me, sir?”
The old Snowbunny turned his head around swiftly to look at me, and I resisted bounding backwards at the stare he gave me. He was eying me like I was a strange object, a particularly large carrot or a nice and suitable hole in the ground to sleep in.
“Um...what’s going on?” I blurted out. My voice sounded strange, and different to how it usually did. I was usually a quiet Snowbunny, and rarely just yelled out things. But I couldn’t think of anything else to do. ‘What’s going on’ seemed like the best question to ask.
I waited impatiently as the old Snowbunny didn’t reply. He just stared at me. Could he possibly be deaf? Grandpa Baba was. I suddenly felt a little silly at the thought of speaking to another Snowbunny who was deaf, and started to turn away.
But he wasn’t deaf. He had just been surprised at me approaching him. “Wait!” he called out to me hoarsely.
I spun around swiftly, feeling relieved that he was going to talk to me. “Y-yes?”
“You want to know what’s going on, young one?”
“Yes! Where is my family? How did we all end up here? How come only Snowbunnies are here? What are we doing in this... wooden den thing?”
“Slow down, first of all. Now, this is not a wooden den, but a cage.”
“A c-c-carge? So what are we doing in here?”
“Cage. You see, we have been discovered at last. We have been found... by the Neopets.”
“Neopets...” I repeated slowly. My parents had told me stories of Neopets. They were rarely sighted, but those who did see them said that they were ten times our size, and came in all different types, like our neighbours -- the Puppyblews, Faellies, Powtrys and the Abominable Snowballs. Although they didn’t look exactly like the other varieties of Petpets we knew, some did resemble them. For example, there was a Neopet apparently called the Sighing Bunny who looked a lot like us Snowbunnies. They had a thick scruff around their necks, however, and were obviously much larger than we were. They were also looked after by so-called ‘humans’ or ‘owners’ who looked nothing like the Neopets or Petpets. Owners and Neopets mostly lived in harmony with one another, and helped each other through their friendship.
Refreshing this knowledge in my mind, I frowned at the old Snowbunny. “So what about Neopets?”
“We have been discovered, child,” he said in irritation. “Don’t you see?”
I shook my head, confusion increasing inside me.
He gave me another of those frightening stares. “Didn’t your parents teach you anything? Surely you know about how our neighbours were discovered by Neopets and are then captured to be sold? How the Neopets often try to track down other ‘Petpets’, or so they call us, like Snowbunnies? How the Abominable Snowballs had one of their number subjected to the zapping ray of an evil Kookith? Surely you know?”
He groaned, and lifted his head, raising one paw to point at an area outside the cage. “See there?”
My eyes followed the direction he was pointing at. It was very dark, so I had to squint to make out the figures there. They were very tall. One of them looked like a Snowbunny, but with a scruff around her neck and pieces of material on them... a Sighing Bunny? I gasped. Neopets!
“How come we’re with Neopets?” I asked nervously. “I was asleep until I woke up here. What happened? What do you mean, they know about our neighbours? What’s this about an Abominable Snowball and an evil zapping ray? What does it all mean?” I felt a thrill of fear when I saw the old Snowbunny’s eyes. They were grave, and I knew they didn’t mean good news.
“You see,” he began, “our kind have always been known to, but never understood by, these Neopets. They are interested in us, and many of them, in their society, keep our kind as companions. Apparently, the number of Petpet species far outnumber the variety of Neopets species, so they are determined to find out if more species exist in the world. Because we live on the highest peaks of Terror Mountain, few Neopets approach our area and have never seen our homes.
“But five days ago, one Snowbunny thought he saw five different Neopets very close to our home while he was out searching for food. One of the Neopets spotted him and approached him, so he ran away. He thought they might have seen the other Snowbunnies and our dens, but his family didn’t believe him, so he didn’t tell anyone else.
“This is what happened today while you, and almost all other Snowbunnies, were asleep. Not five, not six, but ten different Neopets came up to our home on the top of Terror Mountain. They picked up every Snowbunny they could see, in a gentle manner, but then packed us tightly into these cages and started carrying us down the mountain. Only I was awake. I tried to make them stop... but I was lifted up, easy as winking, and packed into the crates too. We’re at the bottom of Terror Mountain now, in a strange structure the Neopets are staying in. Strange... things... that are on fire are surrounding us. I do not know what the Neopets are planning to do.”
As he fell silent, I gaped at him, open-mouthed. I had never, ever heard so much about Neopets before. Why would they come to our home? What were they going to do? How come they separated us into crates, so that I couldn’t find someone I knew? And were the Neopets kind or cruel? There were so many questions that I could think of only one thing to say.
“The Snowbunny who saw the Neopets five days ago... that was you, right?”
The old Snowbunny nodded sadly.
With the only other questions in my head being impossible for anyone to answer, I decided to take a better look at my surroundings. Outside this cage of ours were the Neopets, of course. Four of them, so it appeared. They were staring at something on the wall -- round, and with two sticks protruding from the centre, pointing at symbols and markings on the outside edge. What could it be?
As the old Snowbunny had correctly said, we were surrounded by thick materials that were on fire. At least, they looked like they were. They didn’t seem to be burning, just as if someone had squashed the fire flat and pressed it down. There were hundreds surrounding us!
A feeling of dread hit me as I saw what was behind them -- another cage filled with cramped Snowbunnies. And another, and another! The Neopets really had taken all the Snowbunnies. Before I could wonder again about why they had done it, lights suddenly flicked on around us.
The uproar in my cage, from all the other Snowbunnies, increased heavily. The four Neopets started walking near us, talking to each other as they eyed the fiery materials and the cages of Snowbunnies.
“Should be a great Advent Calendar day...”
“...will love these new Petpets...”
“And the fiery mittens, in this cold weather!”
And then, all of a sudden, they turned back to the round thing with the sticks coming out from the centre.
“See the clock? It’s almost time!” the Sighing Bunny said in excitement.
I had no idea what was going on, but all of a sudden, the Neopets started counting.
“Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! And... one!”
I’m still not exactly sure what happened next. All that I knew was that I could hear a loud roar from outside, could see hundreds and hundreds of Neopets rushing in, all of them flipping open the cages and grabbing the fiery material, noise surrounding me, a voice saying, “Welcome to the sixth day of the Advent Calendar!” and more...
The moment the cage opened, I thought of escape. But I didn’t have time. An enormous paw reached down, grabbed hold of me and pulled me upwards.
“Yay, a new Petpet!”
I struggled, whimpering and growling, but it was no use at all. I was being pulled me away from all the other Snowbunnies, cushioned on top of the fiery thing and held tightly, painfully. And with a rush of speed, the Neopet ran off with me and my fear, leaving all the other Snowbunnies, and what had been my happy life, far off behind us.
To be continued...