Life in a Snowy Shadow: Part Two
For a long time, all I could sense was that a Neopet was running with me in their arms, and that it was steadily growing less cold around me. I had no motivation or energy to look up and observe my surroundings, but my mind, at least, was extremely active.
Where was the Neopet taking me? Please be somewhere comfortable. Would they treat me kindly? I could only hope. Would I ever see my mother and sister again? Probably not. What was this strange feeling I had? The temperature around me had steadily increased, but my thick white fur was used to the chilling cold of the Terror Mountain peaks, not heat. It was a queer sensation, feeling hot for the first time, and I don’t think I’ll ever truly forget it.
After what seemed like eras to me, the Neopet stopped, and his grip on me loosened. It definitely wasn’t enough to let me escape, though. My eyes were firmly closed, the way they had been all the way through this trip, but I sniffed the air. A range of unfamiliar smells hit me -- a musty odour, stuffiness, and something which was so distasteful that I squirmed around.
“Calm down and stop moving!” the Neopet ordered. I fell still immediately, but made small mewing sounds that sounded pitiful even to me.
The Neopet seemed to soften slightly at that, and did pet me on the back, albeit roughly. It was nevertheless soothing to know that this Neopet wasn’t really cruel. But then, I heard a sudden voice out of nowhere.
“Wow... Owen! Hi!”
The Neopet holding me gasped. “Kitty!”
It was then that I finally opened my eyes, and my, what a sight!
There was barely any snow, and the little that was there was had been streaked over the ground. Grass, which I had only ever seen in small bunches and hidden under the snow, was plentiful and spread out all along the earth under the Neopet’s feet. And all around me were strange structures -- in all different colours, generally rectangular, but also with something triangular at the top of many. I was totally bewildered -- what were these things? Did the Neopets live in them?
I now turned my attention to who was standing in front of me -- another Neopet. Surprisingly, she looked incredibly like a Baby Blu, but had feet and a differently-shaped tail. Some Baby Blu lived in the frozen ponds near home, but not many. It was too cold for them.
I forced myself not to think of it. I was heading towards a new home, apparently. My old home had been left after the Neopets took all the Snowbunnies living there away. My heart gave a small wrench, but I tried to ignore it, and forced myself to look at the Baby Blu-like Neopet.
“Have you been to the Advent Calendar already?” she said excitedly. “I’m on my way there right now! What did they give out?”
I turned to the Neopet holding me for the first time, and saw that he was of no resemblance to any other Petpet I knew, unlike Kitty. He was, overall, red in colour, had eyes that were closed (or almost closed -- I couldn’t tell), two smaller ears on the sides of his head, and another two long, thin ones! His paws holding me were shaped almost exactly like his feet -- flat, and without toes or fingers. How strange!
“Awesome stuff!” he said happily. “Look!” He grasped me around the stomach, and pulled me up so I was in full view of the other Neopet. “This is apparently called a Snowbunny, Kitty. A new Petpet. Cute, right?”
Kitty moved in closer to me and looked directly into my eyes as I whimpered. Having these enormous eyes looking right at me did scare me a bit, and I struggled again under Owen’s grip. “Let me go! Let me go!”
Neither of the Neopets answered me, though. They couldn’t understand me at all. Instead, both of them giggled, and Kitty cooed to me like I was a baby.
“So cute! I can’t wait to get my own -- it’s a lot better than my Ditsy!”
Owen nodded, still grinning broadly. “Well, I’ll have to go home now. My owner will want to see this!”
“Of course! Goodbye!”
Owen waved to her as he turned and set off again down the track.
I could feel myself getting more and more nervous. What would I meet at Owen’s home? Would his owner be kind? I could only stay frozen in anxiety as I waited for what was to come. Owen clearly didn’t share my worry. He held me as tightly as he had done before, and walked onwards, making many twists and turns along the path. Every now and then he would whistle for no reason.
At last, we had arrived. Owen approached one of the structures I had seen before -- mostly square in shape, with a triangular top. Near its centre was another rectangular structure. And on the structure was something small, round and golden.
Owen pressed his paw to the golden circle, and it instantly made a loud, ringing noise that shocked me into leaping up. But Owen grabbed my foot and dragged me back down before I could have the chance to flee. And at that moment, the rectangular thing opened, revealing what was in there.
Standing just inside was what I recognised as an owner from the stories. She had long black hair, and was very slim. Her eyes, however, had a hard look as she glanced at me, and I felt a small chill.
“Hi, Nikki!” Owen said happily. “Look at what I got from the Advent Calendar!”
He showed me and the other fiery stuff to her, the same way he’d shown Kitty. Nikki’s expression loosened and she broke into a wide grin.
“Another Petpet, huh? Are you going to keep it?”
Owen nodded. “You can sell Flutter. This Snowbunny looks a lot better.” He stroked me, but although that was pleasing, it wouldn’t stop the shock of the next words.
Nikki smile grew even broader. “Finally, you’re going to let me! Faellies are worth a lot on the market at the moment. It’ll get us a lot closer to that Royal Paint Brush!”
My head was spinning. Sell? Faellies? Market? Paint Brush? Wasn’t selling for... objects? Trading food we found for others? How could anyone sell a Faellie? What in the world did Nikki mean? Before I had enough time to think deeply about this, however, she stood aside to let Owen and I in.
I finally got a proper look at the inside of the structure, which I now remembered that Owen had referred to as a ‘home’. It was completely different from what the burrows and dens us Snowbunnies lived in at the top of Terror Mountain. This place had many soft, squishy things like the fiery material, but much larger, and I saw Nikki sit on one of them. She was looking at an object in front of her that was rectangular, and had different bright, colourful pictures on it that moved. I was interested to see what it was, but Owen didn’t let me. He was still holding onto my body stiffly and tightly.
Then he walked up a slope with rectangular ridges carved into it, which he stepped on, lifting his feet and heading to the top, where a flat floor with more rectangular shapes like the one Nikki had opened. He headed towards the first and rapped on it heavily, harder and more impatiently than he had done with the one outside.
“Don’t bang on the door like that! I’m coming!” yelled a voice from inside.
Door, I told myself. This thing Owen was knocking on was called a door. I would have to learn the words this Neopet family used for all these strange, new and different objects in this place if I wanted them to understand me.
As I thought about this, the door suddenly swung open, missing Owen by barely an inch. He jumped backwards angrily. “Watch it!”
“Watch it yourself,” said a snooty voice, and out stepped... a Sighing Bunny!
She didn’t really look like a Snowbunny, now that I could see one up close. She was more colourful, had longer paws and legs compared to her body, and was wearing these strange pieces of material on her, like all other Neopets. And in her eyes was a look that I didn’t like at all.
She caught sight of me and stared intently. I tried, for what must’ve been the hundredth time that day, to escape, but I couldn’t. I was too small, too weak, compared to these Neopets. It made me feel like a helpless infant around them, when I was actually one of the best at tug-of-war at school. But school was gone. Everything that had happened there, and everything that was there, had been abandoned, because the Snowbunnies who’d lived there had been captured so that we could be handed out. The thought made my eyes fill with tears.
“Hey, look!” said the Sighing Bunny excitedly. “It’s crying! That’s sooooo adorable!” She gave a small chuckle.
That just made me feel worse. This Sighing Bunny was laughing at how sad I felt! How could she be so insensitive? I tried, once again, to speak.
“P-please let me go! I want to go back to my family! I don’t want to live here!”
Just like it had been with Kitty, the Sighing Bunny didn’t understand.
“Awwww, now it’s making such cute noises!”
“Maybe it’s trying to talk,” Owen suggested.
This ‘it’ business was getting on my nerves, but I urged Owen on. Yes! I’m trying to talk. I’m trying to tell you to set me free. Listen to me!
The Sighing Bunny rolled her eyes. “Petpets can’t talk. But...” She lifted a paw to her chin and scratched it absent-mindedly. “Maybe I can teach it how to.” She moved very close to me and looked directly into my eyes, which was creeping me out again, although I was getting pretty used to it by now.
“Hello, Snowbunny. I am Cecilia. Cecilia the Cybunny.”
So it was Cybunny, not Sighing Bunny! I made a mental note for myself to tell my family and friends, but then quickly remembered the situation I was in. I looked back at Cecilia bravely and listened to her talking to me as if I was a newborn baby.
“This is Owen. He is an Aisha. You are a Snowbunny. Your name is--”
At that, she broke off, and looked up at Owen. “What is its name?”
“Stop calling me ‘it’!” I cried out, but this time, neither Owen nor Cecilia paid any attention. Cecilia was watching Owen, who was frowning.
“Well... I can’t really think of a name right now...so how about No Name?”
No Name? I could not believe my ears. Had he seriously said that? Was he seriously going to name me that? For one thing, I already had a name -- Kay. But I couldn’t be bothered saying it this time. I knew by now that they couldn’t understand me.
Cecilia chuckled. “Good one! OK, No Name. You are a Petpet. We are Neopets. That means we are better than you. We will look after you, but you must listen to and obey every word we say. Understand?”
I understood, but that didn’t mean I agreed.
“Did you want it to meet Marzely?” Cecilia asked, looking back up at Owen.
Owen nodded. “Where is he?”
“In the kitchen. I didn’t want him messing up my most beautiful, precious bedroom!” Cecilia flashed what may have been meant as an adoring smile, but looked really ugly and menacing to me.
“Fine,” Owen said. He held onto me tighter, and walked back down that slope, towards a section of his home that I hadn’t seen before. It was as strange as every other part, but had a glassy white floor that would’ve blended me in entirely if it weren’t for the grey colour on the inside of my ears. He placed me down.
“Marzely! Come out, we’ve got a new friend for you!”
I watched in anticipation as a small, blue tail stuck out from behind one of the smaller doors, and out came Marzely.
To be continued...