A Tale of Two Bori: Part One
Bori have been widely accepted throughout Neopia; they have migrated to every different land, been hailed as miners, shopkeepers, craftspeople, musicians, even professional Yooyuball players. They have proven adaptable and resilient as a species, and many today are too young to remember the wintry lands their kind originated from... or the chilling tale that first revealed them to the world.
Feinly does not forget. No one who saw the Bringer of Night and survived could ever forget him; his piercing red eyes, his hide as black as death, the golden flash of his vicious staff weapon... Feinly remembered the confusion and terror she felt as she awoke from her icy slumber to find herself plunged into war. The tribe of Bori, the last of their kind, had been frozen in an enchanted hibernation to protect them from... him. The Bringer. And when at last they emerged back into the waking world, they found that their nemesis had been brought to them by a horde of thieves and they had to fight for their survival. History, of course, shows the results of the battle – Bori have established themselves throughout Neopia, and the foul Bringer and his undead army were destroyed a long time ago. Still, for those who lived through it, it can take a long time to recover. For Feinly, she would never feel safe in the Ice Caves again. She had to leave it all behind.
When Feinly left her winter home, she knew nothing of the world. Her entire life had been taken place underground, with an occasional foray into the snow. Usually the bright light and the cold winds repelled her back into the warm safe tunnels, where she remained, quiet and solitary. When her homeland erupted into war, she knew she could never feel safe there again; long after the blizzards had erased any traces of weapons or warriors, she would remember. But the experience did teach her one thing, and that was: the world was a much larger place than she had been led to believe. There were other species of Neopets, other cultures vastly different than her own. The thought terrified her, but she needed to find a place that was safe, a place just for her. So she began the arduous journey through the Ice Caves, emerging into the perpetual winter outside, and began walking.
She had no way of knowing how long or how far she had stumbled through the snow; her thick Bori fur protected her from the blustering wind, but she could not see her own claws in the fierce snow squalls. The only way she knew she was traveling away from the mountain was that she was still going downhill. She began to notice something was different when the gusts of wind no longer whipped her tail about, or buffeted her long ears. The weather was becoming more peaceful. Through frost-rimed eyelashes, she could begin to make out a smudge of color on the horizon – not white snow or grey stone, but a rich and enticing blue. She felt a nervous anticipation – it was exciting, but frightening as well – and she silently found herself wishing that this new discovery would not be her last.
Feinly was exhausted by the time she reached the foothills. The snow had receded up the mountain face, and her long claws were now finding purchase against bare stone and rocky crags. The blue on the horizon finally came into focus – it was the ocean. The air tasted salty to her parched tongue, and the low rumble and crash of the waves against the shore was an unfamiliar and confusing sound to the Bori. She knew nothing of sailing or boats, and swimming was entirely foreign to a creature raised underground. She curled into a ball, tucking her small nose into her tail, and cried herself to sleep. She would never leave this mountain. She did not know how.
When Fein awoke, her sensitive ears caught the sound of voices nearby. There was a moment of disorientation when she could not recall where she was, but the cold uncomfortable stone beneath her reminded her of the impulsive trek she had made. In the mountain, her white fur provided an excellent camouflage against the snow, and remaining still was the best way to avoid notice. But she was exposed here among the rocky shoreline, and surely her pounding heartbeat could be heard for miles. The shy Bori began to edge closer to the voices, trying to discern if they were a threat to her. The language they were speaking was not one she recognized, however, and when she came close enough to see them, she realized just how foreign they were. It was a pair of Neopets arguing with each other, both clad in large wide hats, and red and gold clothing. One was holding a net, and the other a scrap of parchment, and they were standing on the shore beside a curious contraption Feinly had never seen before. Later on, this odd scene would make much more sense to Feinly. They were a pair of fishermen from Shenkuu; they had been lost in the fog, and sailed too far north. The "contraption" was their boat. And their string of bad luck became Feinly's salvation.
She was far too timid to try and approach them directly (that net looked dangerous, and their voices sounded so angry). But she could see she needed to cross this ocean somehow if she wanted to see the world beyond the mountain, and she knew that these strangers knew how. Taking a deep breath, she flattened her belly against the ground and crawled, making as little noise as she could. She had convinced herself that these foreigners were armed warriors of some sort, and if she was caught, it would be the end of her. That thought had her shivering, but she still managed to reach the fishing boat without attracting their notice, and squirm through a porthole to reach the lower deck. The adrenaline was coursing through her – she was terrified, but excited, how brave she was being! – and she managed to crawl into an empty barrel to conceal herself.
Feinly remained hidden below the deck for the entirety of the voyage. The barrel was small, dark, and safe, and it reminded her of her tunnels back home. Well... that was no longer her home, she had vowed not to return. She could not stay anywhere where the tranquility had been so shattered by violence and tragedy. There was nothing left for her in the mountain.
When the fishing vessel glided serenely into port, after the boat had been docked and the busy footsteps and voices from above faded into silence, Feinly decided she would make her getaway. She had no idea what to expect; her mind pictured another rocky shore like the one she had left behind. She could already feel that the air was warmer here, though. What was life like without snow? She was about to find out.
Timidly, she peeked her snout through the porthole, and saw the stars bright against the night sky. Shenkuu was magnificent. It was so green! Foliage everywhere, low-hanging trees extending their willowy branches to brush against the glassy surface of water pools; wooden bridges spanned the decorative ponds and waterfalls that carved into the landscape. There were buildings here, painted red and gold, with fluttering flags and sloping roofs. Everything was new to Feinly. She had never even seen a deciduous tree before, let alone this oriental utopia. The snowy mountain seemed utterly drab compared to this, this... wonderland! She already felt safe here. It was magical.
She slipped off of the fishing vessel onto the dock, marveling quietly at the firm wooden planks beneath her paws. What manner of Neopet had built this? How advanced was this civilization, if they had the technology to travel across the vast ocean? She padded meekly along the path, ears perking at the sounds of a haunting melody – wild Naleaps, serenading from the branches of trees above her. The tiny birds seemed to follow the Bori as she wandered up the stone steps, their feathers rustling around her. All of the the buildings were dark, all of the hanging lanterns flickering faintly as their fire died down. It must be very late at night, if no one was out at all. It was as though for this brief moment in time, the magical village belonged to her, and she was the only being in existence.
Feinly shivered, suddenly feeling the gravity of what she had done. She would never see her homeland again. She was in a foreign country with no friends, no family, no currency, not even a place to sleep at night. She was exhausted and hungry from the voyage overseas, and felt the overwhelming desire to curl up into a ball and cry again.
She shuffled off the path to the outskirts of the town, finding a thick grove of bamboo. She used her heavy claws to shear off several stalks, leaning them together to form a little shelter. The night air was warm to her, her thick winter coat of fur more than enough to protect her from the elements. She nestled down to sleep, the first night of her new life.
It would be a while before she could fully realize her dream, but for the time being, she would be safe.
To be continued...
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