All For a Gift
”I always love this time of year…” a Grey Draik sighed blissfully as she sat on the steps of the Advent Calendar building, staring up at the sky as snowflakes drifted through the air over the Winter Starlight Festival. “It’s always so safe and peaceful here, so I never have a problem going here alone…” She looked down at the goodie bag the Advent Calendar staff had given her for the day. All it ever had was a couple of toys, maybe a book every now or then, and a few Neopoints, but she didn’t care. It was a kind gesture that they didn’t have to do, and she appreciated that they volunteered to make others happy.
“After all, who can be sad in the Month of Celebrating?” the Draik asked herself.
Almost as if to prove her wrong, it was at that moment she heard the sound of someone sniveling. She got up and looked behind the building, only to see a Neopet curled up in a ball, with a hat covering her head and her face buried in her arms. The Neopet seemed to be weeping, so the Draik drew closer.
“Um, excuse me ma’am, but what seems to be the matter?” she asked.
The Neopet looked up, revealing herself to be another Draik - a Stealthy one - with her “hat” perking up as well, as it was actually a Christmas Ghostkerchief. As the two Draiks got a closer look at each other, they were both taken back.
“P-Paldei?” the Stealthy Draik whimpered.
Paldei stood there, mouth agape. “A… Asilvani?”
With a tearful smile, Asilvani got up and embraced her younger sister. “Oh Paldei, I’m so glad to see you! These past few months have been so awful… I haven’t seen a friendly face in weeks.”
Paldei staggered back from Asilvani. “Sis, I can’t believe it! You’ve been gone since the Month of Collecting! Everyone’s been so worried! Where have you been?” Her gaze drifted over to Asilvani’s left wing, which had a massive tear in the wing membrane. Paldei gasped as she pointed at the wound.
“Y-y-your wing! W-w-what happened?!” she stammered, in a panic.
Asilvani looked sadly at the torn wing and turned away, sighing. “It's… nothing.”
“Did a monster get you? Were you ambushed by something? Someone? Who did this to you?!” Paldei cried. “C-c-can you still fly?”
Asilvani frowned. “N-n… No. I thought it wouldn't be that bad, but turns out I can't catch the wind with this tear. I'm grounded, I'm afraid.”
Paldei looked around, seemingly looking to see if anyone was watching, and lowered her voice.
“...D-d... did Jimbigy do this to you?”
Asilvani spun around to face her terrified sister, her face pale. “How did you know?” She asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“She came home after All Hallow’s Eve, and she’s been scarily quiet since then. She absolutely refused to talk about what happened while she was gone, nor would she say anything about you. In fact, whenever someone said your name, she would lock herself up in her room. Something really bad must’ve happened between you two.” Paldei frowned.
Asilvani looked down, mournfully. “I made a massive mistake and put a job I didn’t even want to do above my own family.” She put her hand on Paldei’s shoulder. “Listen, Paldei. Nothing is worth betraying your relatives for. I was told to take something valuable from Jimbigy, and I almost went through with it until she told me how much she trusted me. She… didn’t take it too well when she found out my plan, and then this happened.” she sighed as she looked over to her wing. “So I wanted to make it up to her. There was something I wanted to give her, but I need about 3 million Neopoints to get it, but I only have 200,000 NP.”
“Do you need my help?” Paldei asked.
“Please?” Asilvani begged.
Paldei nodded, with a smile. “Anything for you, big sis.”
“A paint brush and a potion? That’s what you’re trying to buy?” Paldei recapped.
Asilvani nodded. “Thing is, all the ways I know how to get NP either takes too long or is luck based. I’ve actually been losing NP these past few days at Food Club.”
Paldei thought for a moment. “Have you tried restocking?”
Asilvani sighed. “No. It’s nearly impossible to get anything good from shops because other Neopets get to it first.”
Paldei grinned. “Then why not try and be the first to get those items? I hear restocking can get you massive amounts of Neopoints in a short amount of time.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“You need 2,800,000 NP before the Day of Giving? You should at least give it a shot.” Paldei pressured. “Look, even here in Happy Valley you can find two really rare Petpets at the pet shop. If you can find a Candychan or a Snowickle there, you’d be set. Come on.”
It took a bit of prodding from Paldei to get Asilvani to relent. As they reached the Wintery Petpets store, Asilvani began to feel apprehensive towards the large crowd that was clamoring around the door.
“I dunno, Paldei. These guys seem really competitive.”
“You need that money, right? This is the only thing I can think of that could get you that NP quick. Listen, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Just grab a rare Petpet and run off to the trading post! Listen, I’ll help you. With us working together, certainly we’ll get that 3 million in no time!” Paldei beamed.
“You seem confident that you'll be able to walk out of here with those Petpets.”
The two sisters turned around. A Stealthy Techo with a Mutant Kookith on his shoulder was waiting for the store to open as well, and he stood behind them.
“I certainly hope you're prepared.” He said.
Asilvani balked at his remark while Paldei looked at him confusedly. “It doesn't seem that hard. Just walk in, grab the Petpet before anyone else can, and then sell it, right?”
The Techo smirked as the Kookith giggled. “Sounds like it's your first time here. It certainly sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Well, I'd suppose you'll see how it really is soon.”
It was then that the Bruce who ran the store turned the key into the lock, and opened the door. Asilvani could've sworn she saw the Bruce brace himself behind the door. Before long, the entire crowd swarmed into the store (running over the Bruce), racing through the aisles to find the popular ones.
The duo raced through the halls of the store, looking for the two Petpets they knew were valuable, but all the cages held were the basic Cougis, Firs and the classic Abominable Snowballs...
...until Asilvani found one certain cage in the middle of the aisle. A Candychan was sitting in the cage, chirping happily, waiting for someone to pick it up.
Excitedly, she ran up to grab the cage until she was checked by a Lupe, who slammed her to the floor in his desperation to grab the Petpet. In her frustration, she swept the floor with her tail, hitting his legs and knocking him down before he could lay his paws on the cage. He went down with a yelp, alerting the Neopets in the store that someone had found a good Petpet.
Before long, the crowd found the Stealthy Draik and the Lupe getting into a wrestling match in the hallway, and noticing the prize the two were after, the crowd joined in the fray and turned against each other, creating a huge, borderline cartoonish struggle. Petpet supplies were flying everywhere as the little Candychan watched in excitement.
Suddenly, a sudden gust of wind blew by, followed by the sound of a cash register going off. The brawlers looked up. The Candychan was gone, and over by the shopkeeper was the Stealthy Techo from before, looking back at the crowd with a smug look while his Kookith blew a raspberry. He paid for the Petpet, then ran off.
“AFTER HIM!” A Skeith yelled, as half the crowd got up and chased after the Techo. Asilvani could hear cries of “Get Kurokku!” as the crowd chased him well into Happy Valley.
Paldei ran up. “What happened?! I heard yelling and crashing over here!” she shrieked.
Asilvani got up and dusted herself off. “That stupid Techo from earlier sniped the Candychan. I told you this wasn’t going to work.” She sighed as she walked out of the door, sulking. “I give up, really. I’m headed to the Slushie Shop, if you need me.”
Paldei looked on forlornly as Asilvani trudged through the snow until she was out of sight.
Then she got an idea. Those Candychans have to come from somewhere, don’t they?
She raced out the door, going well beyond the village border. Normally she wouldn’t dare go out into the wilds of Terror Mountain, but now? She didn’t care. All she wanted to do now was make her big sister happy.
She eventually found herself in the middle of a snow covered plain, far from Happy Valley. “Candychans like to play in the snow, right? So if I start digging around, could I find one?” she mused. Then there’s the matter of catching one…
A patch of snow twitched, catching Paldei’s eye. She crept up to the snowdrift, and quickly upturned it. A terrified Wherfy dashed out and quickly buried itself again. Paldei sighed. This was going to take longer than she thought.
The rest of the day was spent fruitlessly scouring the field for any sign of a Candychan. What appeared to be a Petpet-sized snow pile? It was a Powtry. Something fell in the snow from the cliffs? A Gwalla. Something bouncing through the fields of white? Either a Raindorf or a Snowbunny.
Before she knew it, the sun was going down as the temperature plummeted. It was a very bad idea to stay outside after dark… but Paldei was lost. Having been so preoccupied trying to find a Candychan, any footprints she had made had been since snowed over, so she had no idea where she had came from as there was nothing she could use to retrace her steps.
As she wandered through the fields, slowly the cold became too much to bear. Paldei slumped over into the snow, and began to drift off. Before her vision cut out, however, she could see the faintest hint of red and green…
She suddenly woke up in a cave. She looked down to see two little Candychans that had started a Snow Flame to try and warm her up. As one snuggled up to her, she felt a twinge of regret. These sweet little guys rescued me… I can’t catch and sell these. I would feel awful for doing so. But what am I going to do to help get NP for Asilvani?
“Thank you so much for saving me… But I should probably go. My sister’s probably looking for me.” Paldei smiled, bittersweetly. One of the Candychans tugged on her tail. She looked down at it. “Is there something you wanted to show me?” she asked. The Candychan nodded and waddled off deeper into the cave. Paldei followed the little Petpet, only to see a little stash of items from the Ice Crystal shop. She couldn’t help but to giggle. These little sneaks had stolen a whole pile’s worth of items!
A gleaming bottle caught her eye. A small vial of an icy blue liquid was poking out of the pile. She carefully removed it, only to see that it was a valuable Freezing Potion! She gasped as the Candychan chirruped. She looked back at it only to see it beaming. “Do you want me to have this?” Paldei asked. The Candychan chirped happily. Paldei bent down and hugged the little Petpet. “Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me.” The Candychan simply chirped.
Paldei waited until the sun was back up before she said farewell to the two Candychans. Having said goodbye, she flew off. It was a while before she found her way back to Happy Valley.
Upon landing in the village, she was near-instantly glomped by Asilvani as they tumbled into the snow. “Oh, Paldei! Where did you go?! You just went off and disappeared yesterday! That isn’t like you at all! I was looking all over for you yesterday; don’t you ever scare me like that again!” she cried, with a hint of both relief and sternness in her voice.
Paldei playfully pushed her big sister away. “I can tell you about it later.” She pulled out the Freezing Potion she was given. “Look what I’ve found! We can sell this for more than 3 million! You can get those two items you were going to buy for Jimbigy.”
Asilvani covered her mouth in awe when she saw the vial. “Where did you get this?!” she gasped.
Paldei giggled. “Let’s just say out there in the snow fields there was someone looking after me. Come on, let’s go to the Trading Post.”
Late that night, the two stood at the door to their Neohome in Neopia Central. Asilvani was carrying a gift-wrapped box. “...I don’t know about this, Paldei. What if she’s still mad?” she gulped.
Paldei gave Asilvani a calming hug. “I don’t know how she’ll react, but she can’t be mad at you forever. We’re family, after all. Once she finds out how sorry you are, all of this will blow over.” she reasoned.
Asilvani gulped, then gave an understanding nod. She slowly opened the door, and entered the living room, where there sat a Wraith Krawk on the sofa, reading a book of Fire Faerie Magic. She noticed the two entering in the corner of her eye. She scowled once she saw Asilvani, as she slammed her book shut.
“So. You came back.” she spat. She looked at Asilvani’s tattered and atrophying wing, and for a brief moment Paldei could see a look of immediate regret on Jimbigy’s face.
Asilvani sighed. “Listen, Jimbigy. What I did back in the Haunted Woods was unforgivable. I’m not here to ask for forgiveness. Honestly, I wouldn’t forgive myself either…” She held out the box. “But I am here to try and make amends. I remember what you told me back at the Woods… so I got these for you.”
Jimbigy looked at the box warily for a moment, before she snatched it away and opened the lid.
Inside was a Halloween Paint Brush and a Wraith Shoyru Morphing Potion. Jimbigy closed the box in disbelief before looking back at Asilvani.
“I remembered how you told me you wished you could fly again. Well, now you can. You can even paint yourself back to your original color if you want.” Asilvani gave a weak smile.
Jimbigy looked back down at the box and sighed. “I can’t take this. Not in your state. I hated how I suddenly wasn’t able to fly anymore after having lived most of my life being able to, but I can’t go back to that freedom now that you’ve suffered the same fate.”
Asilvani frowned. “But I deserve it, honestly.”
Then to everyone’s surprise, Jimbigy got up and embraced Asilvani.
“...No, you don’t. You didn’t want to take away my magic. All we both want to do is to forget that night. Honestly, I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t trust anyone. All I wanted was to find a place I could call home and people I could call family.” she admitted, tearfully.
Asilvani gave her a pat on the back. “Well… welcome home.”
The box hadn’t been touched since.