Forest of Song
The Forest of Song is like any other forest when first
seen at a distance. But once inside, there is more to behold.
Inside, there is a music that lasts a lifetime,
singing from the earth, the trees, and the pets that live there. It is a sanctuary,
a safe haven away from the harsher world.
We guard the Forest, finding places for abused
or abandoned souls to live, ranging from the forgotten, to the mutants, to the
unloved. Any person or pet is welcome to share the song of the forest; no one
is turned away. There are no guarantees when living outside the domestic society
of Neopia, but there is more love than what they would find within it.
* * *
A young red Shoyru blinked his big eyes and fluttered
to the ground as he sighted his owner. "Ice! Iiiiiiiiiice!"
The girl smiled slightly at her pet and settled
beneath a tree, a smallish bundle in her arms. Xaevian watched it with mixed
feelings, happy that another pet was saved, but also feeling sorry for it, having
a brief idea of what had landed the poor thing in this situation.
Ice nodded. "I found this one lurking near the
Bakery. It's a miracle I managed to convince her to come with me…" Her voice
faded, then returned with a hint of whimsy. "A bit of Strawberry Shortcake was
more convincing than words, however."
The Shoyru's winds flapped silently behind them,
creating a soft breeze. "Do you think she'll make it?"
Brushing flyaway red-gold strands out of her
eyes, she stared up into the canopy of the forest. Far away, Pteris chirped
their contentment, and the faded laughter as a Gormball splashed was a lovely
sound to her human ears. The trunk of the tree was solid against her back, and
she nodded. "This one will make it here."
* * *
He waved a paw in greeting, bypassing Myncis
and Cybunnies and Kacheeks, some playing joyously, others eating fruit fallen
from the trees. The atmosphere of the Forest was cheerful and bustling, the
sun streaming through the openings in the canopy.
The little green Aisha behind him looked about
wondrously. "Where are we?"
"A sanctuary," he stated, and motioned for her
to stop as something caught his eye. Shooting up into a tree, carried by strong
wings, he snatched at an item, then returned to his guest. "The Forest of Song,"
he added, as if to clarify.
Xaevian proffered a moist Doughnut Fruit, kept
cool in the shade of the forest. The Aisha accepted it, taking a slow bite to
test before chewing enthusiastically, enjoying the juicy rush.
"A sanctuary…?" she ventured.
He grinned and nodded, gaze floating around the
forest floor. Tree trunks and limbs were adorned with strands of vines, vibrant
purple flowers, and the glow of fireflies shined even in the darkest shadows.
Elppas, Juppies, Neggs, Banans, and Berrystars were a plenty and easily noted,
the tropical variety mingling with the usual growth of greenery. Neopets collected
together in groups, happily chatting or sharing the latest news.
"A sanctuary for healing," the Shoyru explained.
"A home for the abandoned or neglected pets of Neopia, where they can become
stronger physically and recover spiritually."
The Aisha's eyes were wide with curiosity and
excitement. "Do all those pets live here?"
"Until they find an owner or choose to leave
on their own, they do." They were moving again, walking over the grass-patched
forest floor towards a small knot of pets. One was a Chocolate Chia, her fur
brown and silky. Another was a Fire Kau, horns gleaming in the thin threads
of sunlight. The last was a lovely Pteri, painted Faerie.
Xaevian noticed the Aisha was lagging behind,
fearful of strangers, but didn't stop. She would need to become trusting of
others again, and this was the first big step.
At last the little one trudged up after he had
been waiting for almost five minutes. He smiled at her reassuringly, and made
"I'm x_raine," the Aisha said nervously. "But
you can call me Raine."
Each pet, like her, had been abandoned. Left
in a cage for one reason or another, they had been forgotten by the world. Ice
had been the one to find them again, and bring them to a new home.
"All of you?" she asked incredulously.
The Pteri, Cheri933_0, smiled sadly. "Technically,
she doesn't own us. But she takes care of us, and loves us as if we were her
own while we search for a family."
"You search? Isn't it the other way around?"
"Well, I suppose it could be, but…" Her new friend
shrugged. "This Forest is secluded for a reason. No one will find us here unless
we want to be found."
"Do you all live here? And how are you all so…
so… beautiful?" Raine breathed, eyes lingering on the painted coats of her new
Merbyum, the Chia, shook his head. "Xaevian and
Ice don't, but they visit us often."
"And Ice took us to the Lab Ray," the Kau-Nihita72_454,
or Nihita as she preferred-added, but there was a hint of apprehension in her
voice. Raine shivered, remembering tales of the forbidden and terrifying "Lab
Ray", rumored in the Pound to be an evil machine that turned pets into mutants.
"It gave us a chance at life outside the Forest, if we ever want to take it."
Why was this Forest so special? "How did you
all… how did this place…?"
Xaevian chuckled. "Ice can explain better than
* * *
Red-gold hair swinging, Ice unloaded the large
basket hanging from her arm, handing out warm, sticky Omelettes and delicious
Jelly. Neopets took them gratefully, sharing among friends, a treat eaten with
their own scavenged food. Her eyes widened in surprise as Xaevian accepted the
next Omelette, and she wondered what her pet was up to this time.
He grinned wickedly but gave it to the Aisha
at his side.
"Hullo Raine, Xaevian," she greeted brightly.
"Raine wants to know how we came here, Ice."
Delighted at the opportunity to tell a story,
she situated herself on an overgrown mushroom. Several other pets also clustered
around to hear, although most of which had already been told the tale many times
over. It was a common occurrence for Icedesperado to retell the growing legend
of how the Forest had come to be.
"The Forest of Song stretches across three very
small islands," she began. "Xaevian and I had found this place by accident,
and enjoyed its sense of peace, treasured its solitude. But when we left, in
comparison to the sweet richness of the Forest, we realized just how many tragedies
and so-called lost causes there were in the world of Neopia.
"That was when we started bringing pets here."
She petted Xaevian's scaly head fondly before
continuing. "One by one, I began labbing pets, making them stronger, faster,
made them feel beautiful on the outside. The Forest, however, made them feel
beautiful on the inside.
"Slowly the Forest of Song was filled up and
no longer silent. The peace is still here, but the solitude now exists in another
form: music. The love and laughter and tranquility sings to the trees, and the
trees sing to the pets they shelter. Happiness can be found here, in every shape,
size, and song."
Done with her story, Ice jumped to her feet,
rested and ready to continue her rounds. A Uni trio backed away to let her through.
"I'm going to check on the shop," she announced, "I'll be back later."
"Bye, Ice!" the pets chorused. Xaevian waved
goodbye to his owner before turning to Raine.
"Any other questions?"
The Green Aisha nodded, her eyes bright. "Can
I stay here?"
* * *
The Forest of Song is like any other forest when
first seen at a distance.
But it is a special Forest, one made for the
loners, leftovers, and downtrodden. The ones without hope, the ones without
a path to lead them along the way. It is for any pet searching for something
they had once lost… and longed to find again.
With the exception of Xaevian and myself, none of the characters in this
story are real, although you are welcome to believe what you like. The Forest
of Song itself, while not tangibly on Neopia, is very realistic; much more than
just a Forest, it is a living, breathing dream each Neopian looks forward to,
as they doze off in the night.