Neopian Story Time: A Snowbunny Tail
The end of fall was Peak's favourite time of the year. It was the time when he poked his nose out of his burrow and breathed in the first crisp scents of winter. He'd hibernated peacefully through the spring and summer months and now it was time to emerge and enjoy all that the coming winter had to offer.
There was only a thin sprinkling of snow on the ground, swirling around with the fallen leaves, but it was enough to tickle his ears with blissful cold. He skipped and hopped over fallen twigs and rocks until he reached his favourite pond. The water hadn't frozen yet and he lapped up a few quick sips, enjoying the clear, clean taste of Terror Mountain's springs.
A tiny breeze blew past and he paused, raising his nose, sniffing the air. Cookies? Curiously, Peak scampered off through the snow and leaves towards the snow faerie's home where the smell was coming from. Ever cautious, Peak snuck up to an old stump and poked his head around it, his nose twitching with the smells in the air.
A bright table had been erected and the snow faerie stood behind it, speaking to a group of neopets gathered around her. "It's just a simple competition; the snowbunny with the fluffiest tail wins this jar of cookies! Now off you go and find some snowbunnies!" She clasped her hands together, smiling happily as the neopets dispersed in a flurry of excitement.
Peak's ears twitched, his gaze focussed on the cookies. Being a snowbunny himself, there was little he was fonder of than cookies. However, a tail was never something he'd given a whole lot of thought to. He hadn't any use for it, really. He was more interested in sniffing and burrowing than in a bunch of fluff on his rear. But if his tail could possibly get him a jar of cookies...
Peak turned his head to the side as far as he could, looking for his tail. But all he could see was the white curve of his back and his pale grey toes. Perturbed, Peak turned his head as far as he could to the other side - yet the view was the same. No matter how he squirmed and turned around, running in desperate circles, he could catch no glimpse of anything resembling a fluffy tail. Could it be that he'd lost it during the summer?
Quivering with anxiety, Peak raced back to his burrow and wiggled his way inside, his snout sniffing through the dried grass and soft moss for something that could be his tail. But though he clawed through the full width and breadth of his tiny burrow, there was no fluffy tail to be found. Where else could he have lost it?
Not to so easily give up on a whole jar of cookies, Peak clambered back out of his burrow, pressed his nose to the ground and picked up his own scent, following the trail he'd left down to the little pond he favoured, searching for his tail, just in case he'd lost it along the way.
He was just sniffing around the edge of the water, glancing around curiously, when a sharp screech caused his ears to stand erect.
"Oh, look at that snowbunny, ain't he perfect?" a Bori cried, looming over him. For a moment Peak stared up at her and her companion, his blue eyes large as neggs. The Bori reached for him; two big, clawed hands coming down to grasp him. It was all too much for a cautious snowbunny. Peak was off in a flash, bounding through the snow just as quickly his paws could carry him.
"Hey now, that ain't fair! Come back here! Help me, Charlie!"
Peak could hear the crashing sounds of their feet and paws as they came racing after him and he ran as fast as he could ever remember running, his ears swivelled backwards to keep track of them. He dodged to the right around a boulder, then to the left around a tree, trying to lose his pursuers. In fact he was so busy focussing on them that he failed to notice a patch of ice coming up ahead.
With a yelp of surprise, Peak went sliding across the ice and, before he could get his footing, found himself tumbling down a dusty slope. As soon as he'd rolled to a stop he clambered back to his paws, shaking the dust out of his fur. Hearing the Bori and her friend above him, he shot a desperate look around. There, just off to the side of him, was a tiny ice cave. Peak darted into it and pressed himself as far back into it as he could, his ears pressed flat against his head as he waited breathlessly.
The Bori's face, large and frightening, appeared in the entrance to the cave. "Oh, Charlie, here he is! Come on now, help me get him out!"
The Bori reached for him yet again, but Peak kept himself huddled against the far wall, managing to stay just out of her reach. He would be much happier when there was a thick blanket of snow that he could burrow into at any time. Finally the Bori gave up with a sigh and pulled her claws away. "I just can't reach him! I guess we'll have to find another. Come on Charlie, I'm determined to win!"
Peak waited until he could no longer hear their footsteps and their scent had vanished from the breeze. He edged forward, sniffing carefully to make sure he was right. Scenting nothing, Peak poked his nose out of the cave. The coast looked clear.
Hopping slowly from the cave, Peak looked around, trying to figure out the way back to his burrow. But the wind had blown his scent away along with his assailant's, and he couldn't find his trail. He sniffed around anyway, searching for a trace of it, but his ears drooped with disappointment. He was now without a tail or a home, and he had little chance of getting his paws on all those cookies.
"Come on now, you can do it."
A soft voice caused Peak to sit up in alarm, his ears searching for the source of the sound. To his relief, whoever was talking was somewhere over the nearest hill. But there was something else coming from over the hill as well: a scent. Cookies?
Unable to help himself, Peak hopped carefully up the hill, flatting himself at the top so as not to be seen while he looked for the source of the cookie smell. There was a faerie Peophin in a clearing below him holding out a cookie to a little pink snowbunny, trying to coax her to come and take it. The fire Eyrie with her was speaking softly to the snowbunny as well, trying to assure her that they meant her no harm. Behind them sat a whole picnic basket full of things that smelled delicious to Peak's twitching nose.
The pink snowbunny moved a little closer, sniffing at the cookie. Then, all at once, she turned around and darted away. The Peophin pouted with disappointment. Peak couldn't understand this at all. Sure it was a good idea to hide from most people, but what kind of self-respecting snowbunny ran away from a cookie?
While the two neopets were busy peering after the runaway snowbunny, Peak scrambled silently down the hill, hopped up to their picnic basket and pulled himself inside. His nose twitched with delight. There was a sandwich, cookies, and something that smelled like apple pie only not. Breathing in deeply, Peak burrowed a spot for himself in the middle, where he could reach all of the treats he'd found. One by one he nibbled his way through him, paying little attention to the conversation of the neopets outside the basket.
Only when his meal was done and he realized the basket was swaying did he start to pay attention. "I am sorry we couldn't enter that snowbunny in the competition, she was so sweet looking. But I had fun anyway."
Peak had almost forgotten about the competition. It was time to go back to searching for his tail before someone else won all those cookies. Not that he really wanted more cookies, at the moment. Getting back up on his paws, Peak waddled his way to the edge of the basket, propping his paws up on the wall so he could poke his nose out the top, looking around to figure out where he was.
To his great alarm, he found himself staring at the open space above Terror Mountain. The neopets were flying and taking him with them! With a squeak of fear, Peak darted back into the basket and burrowed his nose under a pile of napkins.
The basket stopped swaying and Peak heard a rustling above him. Holding his breath, he held as still as he could, hoping he looked like he belonged.
"Hey, look at this! There is a snowbunny in our basket!"
"What?" More rustling. "So there is! I wonder how he got in there?"
"We'd better take him back. Oh but look at that tail! We should enter him in that contest! Can we please?"
"I see no reason why not."
Tail? Slowly, Peak lifted his head, glancing around to see if his tail was somehow in this basket. Didn't look like it. Could it be back in place? He sat back on his haunches and craned his neck looking for it. There were his ears, long and slender. His back was there too. But still no tail. They must have been wrong. Sighing with disappointment, Peak scampered back to the edge of the basket, watching as they flew back down, landing not far from the snow faerie's home.
As soon as the basket was on the ground, Peak scrambled over the edge, planning to run away. However the smell of a cookie stopped him. The Peophin still had that one cookie that she'd tried to offer to the other snowbunny. He hesitated, nose twitching, watching her to see what she'd do with it.
To his surprise, she put it down in front of him, surrendering it freely. "Hey little guy, want to see if that tail of yours can win some more cookies?"
Peak nibbled at the cookie, glancing up at her and the Eyrie as he did. Why was it they were still talking about a tail he didn't have? Licking up the last of the cookie crumbs, Peak turned around, meaning to show them that he hadn't a tail to talk about.
But the neopets only grinned. "Perfect," the Eyrie said, "I don't think it could get any fluffier than that."
Confused, Peak turned around yet again, running in circles in an attempt to catch a glimpse of his backside and the tail they seemed to be able to see there. But he saw nothing at all! He came to a tired halt and wobbled up to the Peophin, settling himself beside her. She stroked his ears softly and he perked up, enjoying this.
"You know, I don't think he can see his tail."
Peak's ear flicked. He looked up at the Peophin.
"You're right, why don't we help him?"
Peak watched curiously as the Eyrie leaned over and lifted one of his ears. "Go ahead little fella, look at your tail."
Afraid of another disappointment, Peak hesitated. But there was a crowd gathering nearby, and he could still smell that jar of cookies. Twitching his nose in anticipation, Peak turned his head to the side. To his very great surprise, where he had before been able to see only his ear, he now saw a great, big fluffy tail. Amazed, he reached back, batting at it curiously. Had it been there all along?
The neopets were laughing and the Peophin scooped him up. "Ready to go and get some cookies?"
He sniffed her curiously and then went back to trying to paw at his tail, lifting his ears up so that he could see it. It was a pretty nice tail, he had to admit, even if he still didn't have much use for it.
The Peophin carried him into the crowd of neopets that had gathered with their snowbunnies, letting the Eyrie lead the way. Unsettled by the number of people around, Peak burrowed into her arms, trying to make himself as small as possible.
To his alarm, he was set down on a table, quite out in the open. Before he could bolt away, the soft hands of the snow faerie lifted him up and he found himself staring into her kind smile.
"I think beyond any doubt, we have our winner!"
A few people cheered; the rest wandered off moping. Peak didn't care. The snow faerie set him down beside the jar of cookies. He stared up at the delicious circles in their glassy case, hardly able to believe his little eyes. "Congratulations!"
"Thank you," the Eyrie said, scooping him back up. Before Peak could protest he picked up the cookies as well and the snowbunny decided that, wherever the cookies went, he wanted to go too.
They carried him a little ways away and set him down. "Alright, little guy, show us where your burrow is. We'll carry the cookies for you."
Peak eyed the Eyrie suspiciously, but he seemed sincere enough, so he turned his attention to the ground, sniffing furiously in an attempt to pick up the scent of his burrow. Recognising his surroundings he scampered off, past his favourite little pond, and to the entrance of his burrow where he stopped, sitting back on his haunches and waving a paw in the air for his cookies.
The Eyrie set them down and turned the jar on its side so he could get the cookies. Delightedly, Peak began rolling them, one by one, into his burrow, tucking them around the walls until there was hardly any room left for him. At last when he came bounding out, there were no cookies left to be gotten.
The Eyrie and Peophin were wandering off, waving at him, promising to come back and visit. He flicked an ear and wiggled his tail in acknowledgement. Then he crawled back into his burrow, curling up for a nap after his tiring adventure, allowing the delicious scent of cookies to carry him through his dreams.
This story was inspired by and based upon the book: A Snowbunny Tail. Thank you to Kristen for letting me use Peak!