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Ice Heart


by erroro

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Up the steep and treacherous slopes of the Happy Valley, a faerie walked cautiously, the white snow swirling around her icy blue jacket. One might wonder why it was called the Happy Valley, but if you asked the locals you would receive some strange looks. If you asked Taelia, however, she would tell you, “Because it’s the most beautiful place in all of Neopia.”

      Taelia shivered slightly, and pulled her hood up more over her jet black hair. She scanned the snow, and continued on her way. Many villagers gave her little regard, too busy shoveling snow. The snow faerie walked on, just as careful as before.

     Soon the slopes became hills and the village became an evergreen forest, on the outskirts of the Happy Valley.

      “No one,” she sighed. She turned and prepared to take flight, but something finally caught her eye. Turning on her heels, she saw a bright blue furball. It shivered uncontrollably as Taelia rushed towards it. Gingerly, she turned it over.

      “A Kacheek,” she breathed. The sound of her voice seemed to billow some life in the poor pet’s body.

      “Who?” it croaked, teeth chattering, and eyes shining with fear. Taelia gently cradled the tiny Kacheek.

     “Hush,” she told the Kacheek softly. “No harm will come to you.” She kicked off the ground and went soaring back to her igloo.

     Taelia landed with a soft thud at a huge dome shaped building made out of snow, surprising a quester, who had managed to brave the weather.

      “Are you giving out quests now?”

      “No, but you can come back tomorrow if you’d like,” Taelia answered. The quester walked away grumbling. Taelia walked inside, pulling off her heavy coat, wrapping it around the Kacheek and placing it in bed. She busied herself by making some hot chocolate. When it was ready, she placed it on a nearby table and waited for her new guest to rouse. She gazed at the Kacheek intently. She supposed the Kacheek was a girl, judging by long eyelashes. Taelia’s mind wandered to that possibility she always had hoped when she had a new visitor.

     Maybe she’ll be able to stay!

     It never happened. Everybody had more important thing to do instead of staying with a lonely faerie. Being lonely was something Taelia didn’t want to admit. But she was.

     Taelia had lived alone for as long as she wanted to remember. She hated remembering what it was like in Faerieland. But yet, she remembered the soft cotton candy clouds and the sparkling springs.

     But what she hated most of memory was the Faerie Academy

     “Freak!” a faerie cried out, pointing at Taelia. Her face turned hard as she ignored the faerie, but her face burned. She clenched her fist but kept on flying. As she passed, a faerie said to her friend, “She can’t even fly.” She snickered loudly.

     Later, when she was alone, a faerie told her, “I bet your parents abandoned you ‘cause you’re so ugly!”

     Taelia couldn’t help it. Her fury ran wild, blocking all thoughts. All she knew was every snobby faerie, everyone who had picked on her, would now pay.

     “Crimo a zim!”

     The air faerie’s face erupted with boils. She gasped, touching her face in horror. Soon her whole body was covered in them. “You’ll be expelled for this,” the air faerie spluttered. Boils started appearing on her tongue. Taelia didn’t care. She flew, tears burning in her eyes, away. Just away from all the snobs who’d teased her for years.

     They wouldn’t look for her. They’d assume she had perished. Her path was obvious at the time. But even she didn’t know this one choice could cause her years of loneliness...

     Taelia woke with a start, breathing heavily. Instinctively she fingered a small token, like she always did when she was upset. An egg shaped pendent hung on it, filled with sapphire and aquamarine, with tiny wings on each side. “Must’ve fallen asleep,” she muttered. Her gaze turned to the Kacheek, who seemed to be smiling in her sleep.

     “At least she’s having sweet dreams,” Taelia said softly, smiling. The Kacheek bolted upright at once. She looked around wildly, as if she had been chased.

      “Where am I,” she demanded.

     “You are in my igloo,” Taelia said gently, trying not to startle her. The Kacheek blinked rather rapidly.

     “Where’s that?”

     “Do you know where you came from?” Taelia asked. The Kacheek seemed to think hard but after a while, she shook her head.

     “No, I can’t remember,” she said. She rubbed her eyes. “I just got a feeling I have to do something.”

     “I can probably make an antidote for your memory loss. Do you remember anything at all?” Taelia asked kindly.

     “Lyra,” the Kacheek said slowly. “My name is Lyra.”

     ***

     That night Lyra lay on her bed to think. She hadn’t a clue where she came from. All she had was a feeling she had to be something. At least Taelia was nice enough to offer to try to retrieve her memories.

     One of the things on her mind was Taelia, though. She had always imagined all faeries to be cheerful and energetic, but Taelia wasn’t. She radiated power, and was kind, but there was something different about her. Lyra couldn’t put her finger on it. Tired from thinking too hard about all of her troubles, she fell into her dreams.

     Lyra rushed into a dark blue style neohome. A young girl with blood red hair and a face dotted with faint freckles hugged her.

     “Hiya, Jane!” Lyra said, hugging the girl back. She let go.

     “How was your day?” she asked smiling. Lyra stifled a fake yawn.

     “So boring.” She died dramatically and came back up walking like a zombie towards her bag.

      “Homework...” she groaned. Jane burst out laughing.

     “Forget about that for a minute. Let’s get you a snack,” Jane said, wiping the tears in her eyes. Lyra happily followed her to the kitchen.

***

     Lyra’s eyes flashed open. She breathed hard, as if she had run a marathon. Her dream had seemed so real. She looked out the window to try to calm herself down, but when she saw a dark figure curiosity took over, and she walked to up to the window pane. Lyra stared out the window, bemused for she thought she had seen a sky blue coat. She hurriedly went outside to check it out.

     Lyra caught her breath for a moment when she stepped into the frigid cold. Even in the moonlight, the snow glistened like diamonds under her feet. Taelia seemed like she was hard at work, kneeling on the powdery snow. Lyra approached her, but Taelia seemed to take little notice. Taelia looked up and smiled as Lyra gently tapped her on the shoulder. “You couldn’t sleep?” Taelia asked. Lyra nodded quickly, shivering slightly.

     “Here,” Taelia said, lifting off her coat and wrapping it around the Kacheek once more. Taelia continued whatever she was doing before, but now Lyra crouched down to get a good look. Taelia held up a handful of snow and handed it to her. “Take a look.”

      In the powdery snow there were periwinkle blue speckled berries. They varied in sizes, from as small as a button to as large as a bauble of a Day of Giving tree. She noticed that the bigger berries were more brightly coloured, and looked more appetizing. Taelia nodded. “You can taste them; they’re not poison.”

      Lyra picked out the biggest one and popped it in her mouth. She choked and spit it out. It was disgusting! It was mushy on her tongue, and it was as sour as a screalon!

      As she gagged, Taelia started to laugh. “Looks can be deceiving.” Lyra grinned in spite of her embarrassment.

      “Try a smaller one, if you’re finished gagging on that first berry,” Taelia said, her icy eyes lit up with amusement.

      Although weary of the berries, she carefully picked the smallest berry and put it in her mouth. It melted on her tongue, leaving a sweet and tart aftertaste. “Wow...” she breathed. Taelia showed her a basket of the tiny berries.

      “These are called snow berries. They’re one of the biggest exports of Terror Mountain. But nobody knows that they’re best picked at nighttime,” Taelia told the tiny Kacheek.

      Lyra looked in awe at the berries. “Why don’t you tell everybody that? They’d probably be grateful to know!” Taelia smiled sadly.

      “If I did, everybody would disrupt the peace of night here. Besides, I doubt they’d believe me; many are still sobbing over the fact that I stopped giving out Draik eggs.” Lyra laughed at the comment. “You’d better be getting inside; I need to get picking these snowberries for your cure.” Lyra obliged, removing Taelia’s fur coat and rushing inside. As Taelia watched Lyra’s bushy tail go inside, she wondered how long she would stay with her. She sighed, and returned to picking berries.

***

      Lyra lay awake in her bed. She was sure it would be dawn soon, but that wasn’t what was keeping her awake. She was feeling achingly empty, with the feeling that she’d forgotten something. She strained to remember to what her dream was about before. She only picked out an entirely useless word from it. Jane. Lyra didn’t get it. She swore she didn’t know a Jane; even if she did they were probably nobody of importance. Feeling jittery, Lyra got out of bed to watch the sun rise.

      It was a beautiful half crescent, basking everybody with golden rays. Lyra couldn’t remember seeing anything more beautiful, as worried her mind was she soaked the scene in. Perhaps if she could ever remember where she was from, she would tell everybody of the dawn in Terror Mountain.

     ***

      The next few weeks passed in a blur, for both Lyra and Taelia. Lyra made a habit of helping Taelia give out quests, and to come out at night to pick snowberries. Taelia had many tales to tell, and was happy to have somebody to talk to. But even so, Lyra kept on having strange dreams. When she told Taelia about them, she seemed almost disappointed. “Your memory is getting better on its own,” she had said.

      “I think I left something. Something important,” she told Taelia, after having a particularly vivid dream. Taelia lifted her hood off of her ebony black hair, and smiled. “You’ll get better soon.” As she turned away, Lyra began to think whether she had told the truth or not. “Well,” she thought to herself, “It wasn’t a complete lie.” Lyra bit her lip. She knew, if she couldn’t trust Taelia, she could trust no one. Lyra vowed, she would tell her... once she could make sense of it.

      That night, Lyra ventured out of bed to help pick snowberries. She looked around for Taelia, but she was nowhere in sight. Lyra saw the breath of her own sigh as she knelt down trying to make out any snowberries in the white snow. Without thinking, she picked a berry and popped it in her mouth.

      Lyra could feel the rush of sour on her tongue. She gagged and stumbled, landing face first into the snow. The numb cold surrounded her, and stole all of her strength. Soon, the world as Lyra knew it faded to black...

      “Lyra, don’t go!” a young Chomby pleaded.

      “Get out of my way! I’ll bring her back!” a small Kacheek with rather large ears snapped, walking to the door. The Chomby, looking terrified, stood in the way. Suddenly, a strong paw held her back, and the Kacheek took her exit running. “She won’t give up,” a blue Xweetok said to the indignant Chomby. “Let her go.”

***

      The sweet smell of chocolate filled her nose. Lyra’s nose twitched as she took in the aroma. Blearily, she opened her eyes. As she sat up, a faerie came up to her. “Lyra!” she exclaimed. “Don’t scare me like that! For a moment, I feared you were...” she trailed off. Lyra looked at her confusedly. She then eyed the exit and took off running. Taelia, startled, grabbed onto her arm gently, but firmly. Lyra squirmed as if her life depended on it.

      “Let me go!” she yelled. “I don’t need your help, whoever you are!” Taelia's face of concern melted to a sad one. She nodded, as if she had known all along. “Lyra...” was all she said. Suddenly Lyra stopped squirming and asked, “Who are you? How do you know my name?” Her eyes narrowed. Taelia sighed.

      “I am nobody of much interest. You may leave, but first...” Taelia lifted something from her neck and handed it to Lyra. She took the ice cold necklace. On it a pendant hung filled with sapphire and aquamarine, with two glass wings on each side. Lyra caught her breath. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Lyra looked up and met the faerie’s cold stare. Lyra gently put it around her neck. At first it froze against her fur, but a gentle warmness spread all over her body, like a blanket. Taelia gave her a tiny nudge and said, “Go.”

      Lost for words, Lyra just looked at the necklace and back at Taelia. Her gaze was sad, yet gentle. Lyra only uttered one word softy. “Why..?”

      Taelia searched the young Kacheek’s face. Taelia smiled, although it seemed forced. “Let a piece of Terror Mountain stay with you always.”

      Lyra nodded, feeling strangely empty. She turned her back and ran into the morning dawn. Taelia watched, wiping the stray tear she couldn’t hold back. She reached to her neck to tug her necklace, like she always did when she was upset, only to realize it was gone. As the sun rose over the mountain, and a new day was born she could not help but sigh. “Goodbye,” she murmured to no one as she turned away.

The End

 
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