My Name is Lavendrette: Part Two
"Lavy, you sure you don't want anything?"
Nisceron's left hand was closed loosely around the front door, a pack secured onto his shoulder. Kess and him were heading down the mountain and into town to pick up a few things before the blizzard that had been raring to begin for a day or two now actually came barreling in full force.
Lavy shook her head, refusing to look at the two of them. "I'm sure, but thank you." She sighed, playing with her fingers.
Nisceron cast Kess an anxious glance, but Kess just returned his expression with a shrug and a concerned look of her own.
"Okay then," Nisceron mumbled. "We'll be back by six—keep an eye on Clari, please?" Then, with a burst of chilly air that froze Lavendrette's bones right down to the marrow, and the not so subtle slam of the wooden door, the two Neopets were gone.
Lavy rubbed her arms, and hopped off of the stool she had been sitting on, deciding to get a blanket or something before she quite literally froze to death.
It had been two days since Galaxy had introduced the purple Grundo to her new family members—Kess the red Peophin, Nisceron the yellow Xweetok, and Clarihcye, or Clari, the green Kyrii. Lavy's body still hadn't gotten used to the freezing cold weather associated with Terror Mountain, and she now sought out a blanket or sweater to wrap around herself.
Eventually, the Grundo found a pale yellow blanket, and drew it over her shoulders like a shawl, tying the two loose ends together at the chest so it wouldn't fall off. She hugged the blanket closer to her body, and decided to go exploring around the house; it was fairly large, like an average house, but still big enough. She tip-toed to the other end of the home, and leaned over to peer up the stairs, which were clearly lacking a railing, and had thirteen—no, fourteen—steep steps leading to the second floor of the house. All around the stairs, a white plaster wall covered, the top, left, and right, were all closed off so that no Neopets could get onto the stairs from anywhere but up. Lavy could hear Clari's music booming from in her room—some kind of band, she realized—Yes Boy Ice-Cream? Chomby and the Fungus Balls? Either way, it was loud, and it filled the entire second floor. Lavy narrowed her eyes, flicking one of her antennae in irritation.
She pounded up the stairs, her feet banging on the wooden steps, until she reached the carpeted floor on the top. She turned down the hallway that began up there, and searched for Clari's room; she finally found it, singling it out as the one with the loud music emanating out of it, and trudged over to it. She flung the door open in a rush, and shouted loudly enough so as she could be heard over the crashing, singing, clinging music.
"Could you turn that down?!" she yelled, watching Clari with angered orange eyes. Clari was sitting on her bed, a purple comforter laid out on the mattress, legs crossed defiantly. She glared back at Lavy, then reached out her left hand and turned the CD player's volume down, her eyebrows furrowed with irritation. She offered Lavy a wry and rude half-smile, then gestured to the radio, her eyebrows rising.
"Thank you," Lavy hissed tightly, ducking out of the room and shutting the door with finesse. "I hate her!" she snarled, shaking her head. "So rude!" She dragged herself to the stairs, stomped down them, the blanket still drawn over her shoulders, and whirled out to the couch in the other room. She flopped down on it, hauled a pillow over, and screamed into it, shouting about how she hated her new family. Once she stopped ranting to the pillow, she thrust it down on the ground with such force that the glasses on the table rattled, and the pillow bounced up a good few inches, landed on the ground, and rolled a few centimeters. Her throat was raw now, and sore, and she had a huge headache that throbbed in her brain that just wouldn't go away. She whacked her head against the back of the couch purposely, coming in contact with the fluffy surfaces behind her. She heaved a huge sigh, her breath shivering with the beginning of sobs. Lavy closed her eyes, exhausted after her outburst now, and fell back even further against the soft, cozy cushions... and then, back even further as the reality around her disappeared.
When Lavy woke, it was early morning. Pale sunlight streamed in through the open windows, and the sun was half hidden by the pink and orange horizon, glowing. Lavy blinked her eyes a few times, slowly and groggily. She tried to sit up, hoisting herself up onto her elbows, then carefully onto her feet.
"I must have slept through the entire night and afternoon," she realized, too tired to register the surprise she should have, and would have felt, otherwise.
The purple Grundo stood, balancing herself on the arm of the chair, and looked over to the table in the kitchen; it was completely bare, as if Kess and Nisceron had never come home last night.
Lavy shrugged, and went to grab something to eat—probably a sausage omelette would work. She opened the door to the refrigerator, but found that there was nothing in there. She furrowed her eyebrows. "I thought that Kess and Nisceron went shopping yesterday," she said to herself. "Did they neglect to pick up any food?"
Lavy turned her head as footsteps came from the stairs. "Oh, good!" she said aloud, as she knew that Nisceron was usually always the first one up. "Nisceron's awake, maybe I can—" But it wasn't Nisceron who was awake, but Clari, rubbing her eyes sleepily. This confused Lavy even more so, for Clari was usually the last family member up, not the second.
"Where are Nisceron and Kess?" Lavy demanded, getting a very bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. Clari looked up, her green fur matted from sleep.
"Nisceron and Kess never came home last night," she confessed, watching Lavy through narrowed, uncertain eyes.
Lavy drew her eyebrows together. "What do you mean...?" she asked slowly.
Clari shrugged. "They never came home," she admitted, but the green Kyrii's words were lost as Lavy flew through the door, neglecting to even grab a jacket or something to keep her warm.
Barreling down the mountain to the town, Lavy tried to place her feet cleanly and quickly, attempting to avoid falling down and rolling across the huge, gigantic hill. Finally, the town came into sight, and Lavy ran recklessly all the way there; the town square was full of Neopets looking at one another, conversing, all worriedly and seemingly in some kind of panic. Lavy managed to screech to a halt before them, hopping to a stop, and listen in to some of their hasty words and conversations. Several different voices containing many numerous different tones floated over on the chilly, still air towards her, saying varied things.
"I heard that half of the town's disappeared!"
"Really? I've gotten wind that there are still some Neopets missing."
"Missing? More like gone! No one knows where they are, or if they're even still alive."
"Ha, no one's even looking for them; shows you just how much they care."
Lavy pressed forward into the throng of Neopets, asking, "What do you mean, there are still some missing?"
An island Lupe titled his head at her. "You haven't heard?" he asked. "It's all over the Neopian Times, and is just the talk of the town. More than ten Neopets have gone missing since last night when the blizzard hit; only two have been found, and they're not giving out much information."
Lavy had to stop herself from lowering her jaw, gaping in astonishment. Were Kess and Nisceron one of the missing few?
"And no one's looking for them?" Lavy asked the Lupe in astonishment. She was answered by an Aisha, who scoffed, "No! Disgraceful! Absolutely no one's looking for them; the ones who should be are flailing their arms in a panic and running about willy-nilly all over the mountain." He shook his head, disgusted with the idea.
Lavy thought about this—were Nisceron and Kess seriously some of the missing Neopets? Were they still alive? Were they buried somewhere in an avalanche? Or were they seeking refuge somewhere? Perhaps the two were just randomly wandering around, lost forever in a cloudy, hazy forest of snow...
"I'll find them," Lavy said almost instantly, hardly even giving herself any time to think about her decision—but wasn't that was the purple Grundo was known for? Her rash and hasty decisions?
The Lupe looked up in amazement, his forehead crinkling. "Really?" he asked, lowering his head and glowering at her with deep blue eyes. "You?"
Lavy nodded, returning the Lupe's stare with one of her own trademark orange-eyed glares.
"Let the girl do it." A red Flotsam looked disapprovingly from behind the Lupe; her eyes glanced momentarily at the pet, then at the Aisha, and then back to Lavy. "If she thinks she can, let 'er. It won't hurt for someone to actually try to rescue the poor souls lost in the snow. You two aren't doing any better, anyway, are you?" she challenged the two, and the Lupe and the Aisha both stepped back and away from the Flotsam.
"I thought not," she hissed, wriggling up to Lavy. She offered the purple Grundo and flipper, and Lavy shook it. "I'm Linhe," she told her. "You?"
"Lavy," Lavy offered, retracting back from the Flotsam's flipper. "Glad to meet you."
Linhe nodded. "You too," she said. "Now let's go find ourselves some missing pets."
Lavy was cold. This wasn't the subtle kind of cold that she'd felt on the way up the mountain to meet her new family—no, this was a drastic biting, nipping, freezing, numbing kind of cold—and the purple Grundo had to wrap her arms around herself as she and Linhe hiked up and around paths that skirted past huge crevices in the ground, that rounded giant looming mountains, and cut straight through avalanche zones that looked as if a full-on war between Terror Mountain and its neighboring lands had broken loose. Snow was piled up in clumps in every corner, and tendrils of the cold white stuff fell from the sky, or more accurately, the precipices that Lavy and Linhe were carefully maneuvering underneath, brushing the two Neopets with white sprinkles of what looked like faerie dust. Lavy had to clench her teeth together to stop them from chattering as she and the red Flotsam slowly covered the last treacherous stretch of ground to where the upper lands of Terror Mountain were; where the worst of the blizzard had occurred, and where Kess and Nisceron had said they would be going.
Linhe led the way, moving rather quickly for a pet without any leg appendages, and was the first of the two to reach the summit. She stood for a few moments, trying to catch her breath, then looked back at Lavy. Lavy was usually very athletic, running as if it were the most natural thing in the world, but she was used to the Neopian Central climate—not this bitter cold weather that nipped at her skin and numbed her entire body. She felt as if she was going to freeze.
When she glanced upward at Linhe, the Flotsam had a worried expression on her face, and she beckoned for Lavy to follow her. "I think we should get you somewhere warm," she said, the first words either one of them had spoken in a long while.
Lavy nodded half-heartedly, then grudgingly followed Linhe as she paved the way for the purple Grundo.
There was a makeshift shelter poised upward by the Igloo Garage Sale place; the two Chias that ran it were busily tending to the cold and frightened Neopets, sipping hot cups of Borovan and wrapping themselves in thick, silk blankets. The Chias seemed to have put their garage sale on hold for at least even a little while, and were whipping up more cups of Borovan for the sneezing pets, and the female Chia, Lavy couldn't remember her name, kept pulling blanket after blanket out of their endless supply of items somewhere inside of their little igloo.
"Hello, Mika, Carassa," Linhe greeted breathlessly, nodding to each.
Mika nodded in return, and urged Carassa to go on and keep helping the Neopets affected by the cold and the blizzard.
"Oh, Linhe, I'm so glad you could come," he sighed. "Could you help us with all of these pets?"
Linhe sighed as well, obviously perplexed, and saddened that she couldn't help the Chia. "Sorry, Mika," she apologized quickly. "But we're looking for two missing Neopets—they go by the names of Kess and Nisceron... you seen 'em?"
Mika thought about this, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. With her heart in her throat, Lavy waited to hear if Mika had come across her family members. "Not that I can remember off of the top of my head..." he murmured, then he snapped his gloved fingers and exclaimed, "Yes, actually, yes I have! We have a red Peophin named Kess right inside here. Come, come." He grasped Linhe's flipper, and nearly dragged her inside of the igloo. Lavy followed rapidly, not wanting to be left behind by this Chia's quick feet, which were obviously used to the thick and heavy snow of Terror Mountain.
Lavy looked around her in astonishment; twenty-some Neopets were laid down on ramshackle mats, some coughing, others shivering. A few were sitting up, staring into their warm drinks with glazed eyes full of fright and denial. All of them had silk blankets draped across their shoulders, lain out on top of their bodies, or wrapped around their torsos, and most, if not all, had Borovan cups, full or otherwise, by their sides. And all of them just looked plain frightened. Lavy nearly ran into Linhe as the red Flotsam stopped, and peered over her shoulder. There, in another room of the igloo, were five or so Neopets, none of whom she knew... wait, in the corner there...
"Kess!" Lavy cried, skidding away from Linhe and hopping over towards the red Peophin.
Kess jumped as the purple Grundo leapt in front of her, exclaiming, "Kess! What happened? Where were you guys? Where's Nisceron?"
Kess shook off the initial fear that she had felt when Lavy had suddenly appeared in front of her, and then shivered violently, her hooves tightening around the cup she held. Her teeth were chattering, and she looked up numbly at Lavy.
"Lavy? What... what're you doing here?" she clattered.
Lavy shook her head, trying to banish the tears that were beginning to form in her orange eyes. "Don't answer my questions with your own—where's Nisceron?"
Kess dropped her gaze almost guiltily, and stared listlessly into her cup full of brown, steamy Borovan. The Peophin lifted one of her arms and rubbed at her eyes, trying to rid her face of any noticeable tears. "Nisceron?" she repeated, as if she hadn't heard right. "Nisceron... I don't know where he is... We got lost in the blizzard, and we must have just gotten separated. I also must have fallen down one of the steep cliff sides of Terror Mountain, because when I woke up, I was here, and my whole body ached something awful." She shivered again, and she put her cup down and wrapped her pale blue blanket around her tightly, squeezing it against her body.
Lavy was silent for a few moments, her entire body shaking, her hands trembling. Nisceron... was missing? She rubbed one of her arms unconsciously, and Linhe put a flipper on Lavy's shoulder, but didn't offer any words of comfort.
Nisceron... was gone.
"I'm going to find him."
Lavy was packing things hastily into a knapsack that Mika had graciously given her, and was now randomly shoving important items that she would need in the cold, treacherous weather up at the top of the mountain into the sack.
Linhe was standing not too far away from the enigmatic purple Grundo, sighing. "I don't blame you, girl. He's your family, right? Families have got to stick together."
Lavy shook her head slowly, closing her eyes. "Yeah," she said absentmindedly. "Families've got to stick together."
"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Linhe asked, shuffling forward and putting one of her flippers on Lavy's shoulder.
Lavy looked behind her, glancing at Linhe right in the eyes. "I'm sure," she told the red Flotsam. "This is something that I have to do by myself."
Linhe laughed. "You're beginning to sound a bit arrogant, miss," she told her pointedly, narrowing her eyes playfully at the purple Grundo.
Lavy rolled her own eyes, then said, "Thanks. For being my friend."
Linhe shrugged and pushed back from Lavy. "No problem," she chuckled. "No problem at all."
Lavy began her trek up the mountain just as the sun was beginning to slide up into the sky; it cast brilliant colors out into the horizon, bathing the landscape in different hues and shades of blue, pink, orange, and red. Lavy had no time for sightseeing, however, and instead kept trucking forward, ignoring the fantastical and whimsical sight being held out before her.
Lavy had no idea how she was going to find the yellow Xweetok, but she kept her head and hope held high, and pressed onward, her back aching due to the weight of the backpack set upon her shoulders. She tilted forward and climbed up the hill that way, so it put less strain on her spine. She looked around, her orange eyes glancing around this way and that; she wondered to herself if she should call out for Nisceron, shout his name into the hills, but she figured that would be a stupid idea, for it might trigger yet another avalanche, and bury her as well, this time. So, instead, she whispered his name, wondering if he would hear her.
"Nisceron?" she hissed, skirting around a large spiked mountaintop. "Nisceron?"
Lavy hadn't strayed too far from the village, for Nisceron and Kess had only gone to the top of Terror Mountain. Kess had said that Nisceron had told her he was going to head up to the peak of the mountain to scour the area. He had never come back.
Maybe an avalanche fell on him she wondered to herself. And he couldn't get out...
She shook her head; while that could very well be true, she had to tell herself that it wasn't—that way she wouldn't lose hope of ever finding her foster brother.
Finally, Lavy had to stop; she shouldered her pack off of her back, and slipped it onto the ground, where it landed heavily and splattered dusty snow up into the air. Lavy bent over and hurriedly deposited a blanket from the sack, and wrapped it around her. Although she was wearing the thickest coat both Carassa and Mika could find in their igloo, it was still freezing cold, and Lavy felt like she had some kind of frostbite.
Taking the blanket from around her shoulders, she placed it on the ground, then plopped down on top of it, curling herself into a sort of ball, her knees pressed up against her chest; she hugged them and tried to warm herself by rubbing her shins. She sat there for a few moments, just warming herself, trying to think. But her thought process was interrupted by a few large flurries of snow that whirled past her, landing on her nose. She quickly wiped them away, and shook her head sadly. She'd never find Nisceron in this weather. But, as the purple Grundo went to stand, she heard something.
Something very faint, yes, granted, but something...
Lavy looked to her left, and heard it again, a very subtle rubbing, groaning sound... and it was coming from right... beneath her...
To be continued...