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Pet Name: Nilsth
A pleasantly warm breeze began to whistle through the branches in the quiet hours of the night, one autumn in Meridell. Hanging over the forest was a vigilant sliver of moonlight, casting faint shadows over the ground in dappled patterns that swished whenever the wind stirred. It was a calm and peaceful evening, not unusual for the season before winter's chill set over the kingdom. A lone red Xweetok stepped along the empty woodland path with utmost trepidation, his large eyes darting around nervously despite the calmness in the night. Or what would have been calmness, if he had been anyone else.
"H-Hullo? Is anyone there?" he whispered uncertainly into the night. A moment ago it sounded like there had been something rustling to his right, the sound of footsteps following him, but he dare not look. It was too frightening to think what his eyes might meet in the darkness there. At the same time, it was remarkably difficult to navigate where he was going without looking.
In the starlight he skittered along, front paws clutching tightly to his satchel as he stepped along the winding path of the forest. He glanced over his shoulder when he couldn't help it, just as soon squeaking with fright and looking straight down again. Had that been a shadow following him? Or had he just imagined seeing such a thing? It had been nine hours since the start of this venture, back when the sun had been high in the sky. While traveling along the road close to the woods, a particularly mischievous Albat had stolen his mailbag and dashed into the forest without abandon: he gave chase and reclaimed his satchel from the petpet about an hour later. Soon after, he became hopelessly lost and terrified as he blundered through the shadows, trying to find his way out.
Nilsth wasn't any extraordinary Neopet. He delivered the mail as a humble courier and kept on good terms with the neighbours. Delivering the mail was his pride and joy, and the Xweetok took great delight in chattering with anyone he came across. He found others to be incredibly fascinating, since he himself possessed no superhero powers, no dramatic secret past, no evil twins and no wild tales of adventure. Not that he wanted any of these things: they were terrifying! Even in combat the only fighting style he'd demonstrated was helpless and sporadic flailing, or simply playing dead.
The unfortunate part of being a remarkably mundane Neopet was that Nilsth sorely lacked any outstanding qualities, the most notable of which was bravery. He also suffered the inability to think clearly in stressful situations, leaving the Xweetok prone to panic attacks and fainting spells on a fairly regular basis. His list of phobias were expansive and he frequently found himself running in terror in response to them.
Oddly enough, this talent for high-speed running lent him incredible favour when delivering the mail: he could dash better than any other Xweetok he knew, and for longer stretches of time than many other neopets could boast. He was praised for his swiftness and eager, devoted nature to delivering all manner of letters and parcels. However, in the face of danger he would be the first and fastest to flee in sheer terror. So when he heard the dry, dead twigs behind him snapping followed by a rumbling growl from somewhere in the darkness close by? Nilsth proceeded with utmost haste to demonstrate just how adept at running he really was.
He bolted straight ahead, screaming all the while in such a way he could have easily been mistaken for a small child. While his speed was impressive his ability to see in low-light conditions was not. In his haste to flee the terrors of the night he promptly tripped over a root and tumbled onto the ground. A squawk of alarm escaped him as he went skidding to a sudden and definite halt. Nilsth let out a despairing wail as the sound of unfortunately real footsteps came to a sudden and dreadful stop directly behind him. His little heart beat faster and faster, desperately wishing that none of this was real.
"I don't even have any neopoints!" Nilsth cried out, throwing his paws over his head to protect it. "Th-There's nothing in the bag, I already delivered the mail! I taste horrible and I haven't had a bath after running all over Meridell so I'm smelly too! Very, very smelly! So please don't rob me or eat me or hurt me or transmogrify me or-"
The hooded figure behind him snarled in utmost contempt at the panicked Xweetok, who let loose another high and wailing screech as its grip closed around Nilsth' arm.
"You are, without a shadow of doubt, the absolute and most pathetically unrivaled coward I've ever had the misfortune to know," a familiar voice growled from beneath the hood as it pulled the courier onto his feet, spinning Nilsth around to face him. The Xweetok's eyes widened as they locked with his assailant's.
"J-J-Jay?" the courier sputtered with a surprise only slightly different from fear, a crooked and uncertain smile breaking over his terrified features. His eyes flashed with hope, although they remained wide with distress. "Jayminii? Is that really you?"
"Who else would it be?" the Kacheek in question demanded indignantly, shoving Nilsth' arm away. In the quiet darkness of the night, Nilsth couldn't see his hooded friend so clearly: but Jayminii's snarky tone was a dead giveaway to his identity.
"A horrifying nightmare?" Nilsth suggested, having taken entirely too long to consider that.
"It's about to become one if you don't hurry up," the Kacheek grumbled with a particularly unkind glare, beckoning for the Xweetok to follow him. "We're going home. I have better things to do than go chasing after you in the middle of the night- which is what time it is, by the way. If you hadn't noticed."
Nilsth would offer no arguments to Jayminii's rescue, practically clinging to the Kacheek as they made their way back out of the forest. He thought better than to point out that it had been quite sunny out when he first entered the woods. As plain and uninspiring as he was, the Xweetok was beyond thankful to have such incredibly good friends who were there to look out for him when he took a wrong turn. Or several dozen wrong turns, for that matter.
At the moment Nilsth was more than pleased to have a friend in the dark, happy to be headed out of this maze of moss and branches.
Happy to be alive, and to have friends who made the world a little less scary.
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