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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 946
You are on Week 947
Week 948

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Nine Hundred Forty Seven Ends Friday, September 1

In a small, quiet village in the heart of Terror Mountain, an Ice Hissi with a glowing blue cape slumbered peacefully in his cave. Pilliwinks was known throughout the village as a kind and helpful Hissi, always aiding his neighbours by collecting food and firewood during the heavy winters. His icy exterior meant that he could travel for long distances in the vast, frozen terrain. Tonight, he had just finished collecting the last pieces of firewood for his elderly neighbour, Mrs. Periwinkle.

“Goodnight, Pilliwinks,” The Plushie Aisha called out to him gratefully. “Thank you so much for your help!”

“Goodnight, Mrs. Periwinkle! You’re welcome!”

As he made his way back to his cave, he readied himself to settle in for the night. He put on his favourite Snowbunny pyjamas, got his bed all nice and comfortable, and set up a fire to keep his cave warm. But just as he was making himself a cup of hot tea, he heard a loud knocking on his door.

“Who could that be?” Pilliwinks muttered to himself. It was late enough that he was sure most of the village was asleep. He opened the door and saw none other than Raemor, a fellow villager who lived a couple of houses away from him.

“Hi Pilliwinks!” She shouted as soon as he opened the door. She had a huge grin on her face and carried a lantern at her side.

Raemor was a young, easily excited Chocolate Xweetok. She could always be relied on to cheer someone up when they were feeling down, and she never seemed to run out of energy.

“Raemor?” He said sleepily. “What are you doing here at such a late hour? Do you need help with something?”

“Yes!” She yelled eagerly. “Well, er, no, not exactly- I don’t need help with gathering food or supplies or anything like that. I have something much more exciting!”

Pilliwinks noticed suddenly that she was shivering as she stood out in the cold. In her excitement, she seemed to have run out of the house without even bringing a coat. He couldn’t help but be concerned for her.

“I would love to help you,” he said warmly. “Why don’t you come inside, warm up for a bit first, and we can talk about what it is?”

“No time!” She shouted excitedly. “Follow me!” Before he could respond, she was already running towards the forest, leaving the door swinging open behind her.

“Wait!” Pilliwinks cried out. “You need a sweater!”

He grabbed an extra coat from his cave as quickly as he could before slithering skillfully through the snow to catch up with the (surprisingly fast) Xweetok. He was nearly out of breath when he finally caught up to her. Looking around, he realized they had gone a good distance away from the village, and ended up near the edge of the forest.

“Oh, thanks!” Raemor exclaimed as she grabbed the coat from his hands. She wrapped it around herself as she continued to move briskly into the forest. “We’re almost there!”

“Raemor,” He said breathlessly, “Could you slow down for a second? Can you at least tell me what this is?”

“There it is!” She squealed suddenly. Pilliwinks squinted as he turned his attention towards what she was now pointing at.

From a distance, Pilliwinks could make out a single, tall tree in the middle of the forest. Night had fallen over them, and he could make out the faint, red light that was glowing gently from the centre of the tree.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Raemor whispered, barely able to hold back her excitement.

Pilliwinks felt an eerie chill run up his spine. The dark forest, the howling of wind and snow rushing past his ears, and the faint glow of red light emanating from the tree all painted a strangely beautiful yet ominous sight.

“What in Neopia…?” Pilliwinks muttered. He slithered up to the tree, examining the source of the light. The tree was hollowed out in the centre, and inside of the hole in the tree was the strangest sight Pilliwinks had ever encountered. It looked like a mirror of some kind, a glowing red mirror that reflected the sight of Pilliwinks and Raemor staring back at it. “What do you think it is?” Raemor gleefully asked, peering closer into the strange reflection. “I’m not sure,” Pilliwinks said slowly. “But I think we should try and find out.” He slowly reached his hand out to touch it, when something strange happened…

Author: truebrony
Date: Aug 21st
The red light burst outwards suddenly, making both Pilliwinks and Raemor shield their eyes and shriek (as much as Pilliwinks did not want to admit he was frightened, he couldn't help it!). There was a great juddering vibration from underneath them as if the very roots of the tree were tearing out of the ground, and then, just as quickly as it had all started, everything stopped.

"What..." Pilliwinks could barely speak. "What was that?" He cleared his throat and tried to calm himself. "I suppose nothing has happened. Just a tremor of some kind."

He turned to look at Raemor, who was busy gawping at the mirror, unable to tear her eyes away.

"Look!" she whispered. "Look at the--it's changed!"

Pilliwinks turned back and let out a gasp. It was true. The glowing had stopped, that was one thing, but the mirror was no longer red. It was now a deep blue, and their reflection had vanished.

That couldn't be. How could a reflection vanish in a mirror?

But try as he might, twisting and slithering whichever way he thought, Pilliwinks could not make his image visible in that mirror anymore. Nor could Raemor. And yet, the mirror saw no issue in reflecting their background: the rest of the trees, the fallen snow, the darkening night sky.

"How did you find this place?" Pilliwinks asked. "I'm sure I've slithered through this forest to gather wood for fires several times, and I've never seen this tree..."

Raemor shook her head. "I don't know. It was just here! And I got excited and wanted to show you."

"You didn't touch the mirror before me?"

"No! I was waiting for you."

"Then..." Pilliwinks was not sure what to do. Take the mirror with them? But there was something about it, placed just so in this tree, that made him uncertain. "We will return tomorrow, at first light. For now, let us go to bed."

He had expected Raemor to disagree, to protest; instead, she nodded quietly. Perhaps she too was disturbed by this. But they would find an explanation tomorrow, he was sure. They journeyed back to the village together in uncomfortable silence, both of them preoccupied with what had or hadn't happened...

Except...Pilliwinks frowned, noting they had circled past the seven fir trees a second time. What was going on? They reached the hill that gazed down onto their village, only to be met with more trees again.

Where had their village gone?

"Raemor..." he said, terror dawning on him.

She knew it too. She stared at him with her big, scared eyes, and said: "Pilliwinks...I don't think that mirror did nothing after all..."

Author: dudeiloled
Date: Aug 22nd
The two of them stared down at the valley where their village had stood. The wind had picked up in their absence, each gust heavy with snow. They formed strange eddies in the darkness, apparitions that almost looked like—

Pilliwinks blinked, and the illusion was gone. A low, mournful whistle pierced the air. He shivered and pulled his cloak more tightly about himself. Raemor did the same, clasping the edges of her coat so tightly it looked close to tearing.

“What…what now?” she asked.

“Back to the mirror,” he said. He cleared his throat, hoping that his terror did not show in his voice. Even if he was scared, there was no need to make Raemor worry, too. “Let’s go back to the mirror, and find a way to undo whatever we did.”

They turned and began to walk back toward the forest. Something seemed off, though, and it wasn’t until they’d been walking for a few minutes that Pilliwinks realized what it was—the snow was smooth, unmarred, nary a track to be seen. He glanced back. A long furrow and a trail of pawprints were impressed into the snow, visible for only a short distance before they were swallowed by the gloom.

“What’s wrong?” Raemor asked.

“Nothing,” Pilliwinks said, quickly.

“I hear it too,” she whispered.


Raemor tilted her head towards the trees. “I didn’t want to scare you,” she said. “But I think there’s something following us.”

Pilliwinks listened, carefully. It didn’t take him long to catch the noise—a sharp whine, nearly lost beneath the wailing wind, and a snuffling, panting breath. It sounded close, too—close enough that he knew they wouldn’t be able to outrun it. Or, at least…he wouldn’t be able to outrun it.

“Run,” Pilliwinks said. “The tree isn’t far, and you’re quick—I’ll try and distract it.”

“No,” Raemor said, firmly. She grabbed the tip of his wing. “We stay together.”

She set off before he could argue, tugging sharply on his wing. Pilliwinks had little choice but to follow her into the trees, slithering as fast as he could to try and keep up. Now that he was listening for it, he could hear their pursuer clearly—the bushes behind them shook loudly, knocking flurries of snow to the ground with a soft thump. Twigs snapped beneath unknown feet, growing closer, and closer, and closer.

Terrified, but determined to save his friend, Pilliwinks shook Raemor’s hand off, pushed her towards the tree, and then whirled around to face…

Author: lollypopx2
Date: Aug 23rd
... the lumbering form of a Mutant Skeith, his small yellow pupils glowing in the shadows cast by the forest trees. The Skeith slowed to a stop a few feet away.

Pilliwinks hesitated, on guard but not willing to initiate a fight where there didn't need to be one. He called out, "Who are you?"

The Skeith huffed and grunted, at first seeming not to understand. He lifted his hands, stretching his fingers with their long claws, and Pilliwinks instinctively tried to make himself look bigger and tougher than he felt.

Then Pilliwinks stopped and relaxed, as he recognized the gestures of Neopian Sign Language, used by those who found it difficult to hear or speak and those who spent time with them. The Skeith was not having trouble understanding at all, but communicating verbally.

Pilliwinks concentrated on translating the Skeith's words, drawing upon his experience with a family of mostly deaf Yurbles who lived in the village. "Your name is Hagan. You're trapped here, too?"

The Skeith nodded solemnly and continued signing, 'I was travelling through the forest and seeking shelter. From a distance, the glowing tree looked like a campsite. I touched the mirror. I have been here ever since.'

Raemor, picking up on the conversation, came out from hiding to stand beside her friend.

"Our village is gone," Pilliwinks said. "It seems a storm is picking up. Do you know of somewhere safe to go?"

Hagan gestured and started walking away, his tail dragging a trail in the snow, though Pilliwinks and Raemor hurried to follow before it disappeared as their own tracks had.

As they were walking, Pilliwinks got the feeling he knew where they were going, although his fear and the storm had turned him around and confused his directions. Still, he could swear...

Raemor seemed to be having the same thought as she tugged on Pilliwinks' wing and asked, "Aren't we heading towards..." She swallowed nervously.

Finally, the icy wind ahead cleared enough so they could barely make out the signs that warned people away from continuing up their current path. The Skeith was leading them directly to the Snowager.

"Should we leave? Go back to the tree?" Raemor whispered, starting to panic.

Pilliwinks watched the figure up ahead, who checked over his shoulder every once in a while to make sure the two were still following. The Skeith did not act threatening, nor did he seem as though he was tricking them into being Snowager bait. "No," he said, trying to sound confident in his decision. "Things are different here, our village is gone. There's a chance we're heading to the only place we might find people who can help us get home, or at least who know more about what has happened to us."

Raemor nodded in agreement and set her determined gaze on the path ahead of them.

Hagan slowed as they approached the mouth of a cave - the mountainside entrance to the Snowager's lair. A shortcut to the Ice Caves that no one took.

"Is..." Pilliwinks struggled to form the question without sounding accusatory. "Are we going to be okay?" He put a wing protectively around Raemor, hoping to appeal to any instincts Hagan had against not sacrificing Pets to giant Ice serpents.

'Trust,' was all the Skeith signed to them.

Pilliwinks took a steadying breath and slithered cautiously through the cave entrance. He and Raemor were shocked to find...

Author: maelstromeye
Date: Aug 24th
…the Snowager’s treasure trove completely unguarded. The mountain of coins, crowns, shields, swords, sceptres, potions, armour, jewels, scrolls, and many other items the average Neopian would only have ever dreamed of owning towered over Pilliwinks.

Raemor gaped at the glistening beauty before her. The treasure almost made her forget their plight, but she shook her head and focused on why they were here, in this still very possibly dangerous situation. “Where is the Snowager?”

Hagan shrugged. Raemor didn’t need Pilliwinks to translate that for her.

“So he has disappeared just like our village…” Pilliwinks mused.

Hagan started signing again; his claws reflected the gleam of the treasure and it was hard for Pilliwinks to make out the signs for a moment. ‘I came here one night desperate for shelter from a harsh storm. Like you, I expected to have to face the icy serpent, but he was nowhere to be found. I’ve survived off the bits of food I come across mixed amongst his treasure.’

“Luckily his treasure is still here,” Raemor said. She shuddered not from the cold, but from imagining poor Hagan’s fate if he had not been brave enough to enter Snowager’s cave.

“Yes, but why?” Pilliwinks asked.

Pilliwinks did not expect anyone to have an answer so he missed some of what Hagan signed. The Mutant Skeith patiently repeated himself, ‘I think it is connected to the mirror in the tree.’

“You think the answer to this mystery is somewhere in the treasure?” Raemor asked. She and Pilliwinks both took in the size of the glistening mountain and wondered how in Neopia they could find the answer there.

Hagan nodded, ‘I have been sorting through the treasure and reading every scroll and book I find. I haven’t found the answer yet, but I believe with your help, we will find it.’

The Mutant Skeith offered a lopsided grin which Pilliwinks and Raemor eagerly returned. They had to believe in themselves if they ever wanted to find their way back home. It had to be a good sign that they found someone else here who led them to a Snowager-free treasure like it was meant for them to find.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Raemor asked before she dove into the treasure pile.

“Maybe two of us should search and one of us should read,” Pilliwinks suggested as Raemor tossed coins and jewels aside in her search for scrolls and books. Pilliwinks turned to face Hagan, “You must be tired my friend, we could search while you read.”

Hagan blinked and smiled again. Meanwhile, Raemor reappeared holding a scroll yellowed with age high above her head. “Found one!”

The Mutant Skeith held out his hand and Raemor tossed the scroll to him. He sat down, gently opened the scroll, and began to read.

Pilliwinks took that as his cue to slither through Snowager’s treasure trove. He carefully sorted through each piece of the treasure as fast as he could. He gradually dug himself deeper and deeper into the towering mountain. Eventually, something caught his eye. But it wasn’t a scroll or a book. At least he didn’t think it was. He couldn’t see it very well as it was still half-buried. It glowed from underneath its coverings. Pilliwinks pushed a shield aside and gasped at what he found…

Author: snuggly_flotsam_9799
Date: Aug 25th
Underneath the shield, buried beneath a scattering of gold coins and plastic keyrings (the Snowager’s tastes were difficult to discern), there was an object that Pilliwinks recognized despite having only seen it once. A mirror with a red frame and an eerie matching glow.

“Hey!” Raemor, attracted by the light, ran to the Hissi’s side with enough force to nearly knock him over. “That’s the one, right? How did it get all the way over here?!”

Pilliwinks had no reason to offer her. Hagan’s shadow covered them both as he peered at the mirror over their heads. He made a sound.

“Do you recognize it?” Pilliwinks asked him. “It looks… no, it IS the one that seems to have sent Raemor and I here.”

To his surprise, Hagan shook his head. ‘Not exactly the same. The one I saw was yellow.’

“…And how long ago did you touch it?” Raemor asked. She sounded nervous. And now that she’d thought to ask, Pilliwinks was, too. His jaw dropped at Hagan’s answer.

‘It was at least six winters ago.’

Raemor was quick to panic. Pilliwinks had to calm her down before he could think. It was all so very strange. Hagan surely should have noticed the mirror by now if it had been here all along. So was it their appearance that had brought the mirror with it? Had this mirror switched places with a different one, somehow, that had previously been in this cave?

“…What if we tried switching them back?” Pilliwinks suggested. “Maybe that’s how this works— whatever magic is doing this. The mirrors must reflect… I don’t know. Different places in time, or different worlds. How else would our village be gone if we’re in the same place?”

“Oh! Maybe you’re right!” The tension in Raemor’s shoulders loosened, though only slightly. A moment. They shot right back up again. “B-But— if that’s the case, then what about Hagan? He touched a yellow mirror. It wouldn’t work for him, would it?”

Both of the Neopets looked at the Skeith. He seemed to be following along.

‘If it is as you say’, he signed, ‘then perhaps we are from different places. The same place, but… but different.’

“We both have a Snowager,” Raemor said thoughtfully. “And a village… what would be different?”

Raemor, sometimes as quick-witted as she was physically fast, ran through a list with Hagan. A list of things from her version of Terror Mountain. And for a long while, there didn’t seem to be any difference. But Pilliwinks had an idea, something the mountain was home to that Raemor had forgotten about. She wasn’t one for bargain shopping.

“What about the Igloo Garage Sale? Those Chias, and the bargains they sell out of their home. Do you know them, Hagan?”

‘The Chias? Of course. But it was a moving sale, after all. They left for Mystery Island ten winters ago.’

Pilliwinks and Raemor gasped. They did come from different versions of Terror Mountain. Mika and Carissa had been moving, supposedly, for nearly twenty years. Raemor explained the difference to Hagan as Pilliwinks once again tried to focus on a solution to their unique conundrum.

“The red mirror, if putting it back worked, would just make you a different kind of lost. So if we want to send you home, too, we’ll need to find the one you touched. The yellow one.”

“Great idea!” Raemor agreed. “But… if Hagan hasn’t found it yet, where could it be?”…

Author: valethra
Date: Aug 28th
"The mirror in the tree..." Pilliwinks said carefully, thoughts forming in fragments as he tried desperately to grasp them and put together a plan. "In our world, the mirror in the tree had a red frame. When we touched it and ended up here, there was still a mirror in the tree but it had a blue frame. If you touched one with a yellow frame that transported you here..."

'The blue mirror leads somewhere too,' Hagan suggested.

"Yes," Pilliwinks agreed. "But if each mirror corresponds with a specific place and time, it could lead to an entirely different, unknown place."

Raemor stared into the mirror, turning it this way and that to look at it from different angles. Just like the blue one, it did not show any of their reflections. She did a little twirl, then jumped in surprise and let out a frightened squeal, almost dropping the mirror.

"What is it?" Pilliwinks asked, approaching her.

She shook her head, unable to force herself to speak, nor tear her eyes away from the glass.

Pilliwinks slithered around to glance at the mirror over her shoulder and froze at the reflection of the Snowager in the glass. He tried to remain calm as he looked around the cave to reassure himself it wasn't here, and said, "It's alright. I think this is a reflection of our world."

Raemor took deep breaths until she felt less petrified with fear and began tilting the mirror to get a better look at the Snowager on the other side. "So it's like a window back home."

"I believe so," Pilliwinks said.

Hagan nodded in agreement.

As her fear began to subside, Raemor's fascination and curiosity took over. "Wow! I wonder what sorts of treasure we could find using this. The Snowager is never asleep long enough for someone to explore more than a small section to take maybe a handful of things."

"If we found our mirror in this cave, or at least this world's version of it, is it possible we could find another mirror in the Snowager's lair back home?" Pilliwinks directed the last question to the Skeith.

Hagan considered the idea. 'We could look around using this mirror, but if we found something, how would we retrieve it?"

Pilliwinks steeled himself. "Someone would have to go back to our world and get it."

Raemor stopped in her tracks and stared at her friend. "There must be another way."

"I wish I could think of any other ideas, but I can't think of a single one that has a better chance of getting us all home. If the mirrors are tied to each other, like the ones in the tree, then perhaps this one is here because it's tied to another mirror in a different world that's in this same cave."

'There is one way to test your theory,' Hagan signed. Then he pointed to the pile where Pilliwinks had found the mirror that Raemor was holding.

Raemor trembled slightly as she approached the mass of hoarded items, checking the other side of the cave occasionally to make sure the Snowager hadn't moved from its spot. She slowly tilted the mirror towards the mountain of items.

There, in the reflection of the same pile of items in her world, at the bottom of the pile, was a mirror almost exactly like the one Raemor was using.

Almost...The frame of the mirror in the reflection was yellow.

Pilliwinks looked at the reflection, then back at Hagan. "We have to get that mirror." ...

Author: maelstromeye
Date: Aug 29th
No one answered Pilliwinks but gazed wide-eyed at one another while weighing the situation. After a few silent moments, Hagan was the first to respond.

'I'll go, I was already prepared to face the Snowager once. A second time is a small price to pay to get back home.' He signed solemnly. While it was true this mirror would get Hagan back to his home, the idea didn't sit right with Pilliwinks.

"No, I'll go." He declared. "We'll all travel back to the world Raemor and I belong to, then I'll sneak in and grab the Yellow mirror. If the worst happens and the Snowager wakes, I'll be less likely to take as much damage from its icy blast."

"Just cause you have an Icy body doesn't mean you can survive the Snowager's blast!" Raemor cried out, worry painted in every crease of her face.

'She's right, I can't let you risk this. You already have your way home' Hagan signed hastily. "We only have our mirror because you helped us. Now it's our turn to help you. Besides, I'll be fine, I'm used to travelling quietly." Pilliwinks spoke in a tone that while kind, invited no more debate. The friends headed back to the tree. Raemore clutched the mirror in her paws, watchful for any signs of drowsiness from the Snowager. However, once they left the Cave she cried out.

"I can't see the Snowager anymore! The mirror's sight is moving with us." A heavy silence fell over the group. Without being able to see the Snowager this entire plan went from risky to impossible.

"That's okay, we wouldn't have been able to see it once we put the mirror back to go home anyways," Pilliwinks spoke softly, trying to convince himself as well as his friends that it was in fact okay. He continued the trek, hoping his friends would keep following behind him before doubt could settle in for any of them...

Author: scentofdecay
Date: Aug 30th
The three of them trudged through the snow back to the tree in silence, a cloud of apprehension hovering over them as they walked. Pilliwinks hoped the fear didn't show on his face; he didn't want the others to know how uncertain he was feeling about their plan. Never in his life did he think he would have to enter the Snowager's Lair. That was something that only heroic characters in old books did. Then again, he never thought he would wind up in an alternate dimension wandering the woods in the middle of the night, either.

Up ahead, the tall tree began to come into view, standing stark and alone in the dark forest.

"There's the tree!" Raemor cried out. She hurried her pace a bit through the snow, revitalized at the sight of it. They had made it back!

Suddenly, Hagan stopped short. 'Do you notice something different about the tree?' he signed.

Pilliwinks, stopping now as well, realized what was wrong.

"There's no glow."

He was right. The place on the tree where the mirror had been was now as dark as the rest of the forest.

"Are we sure it's the right tree?' Raemor asked, trying to mask the alarm in her voice. She ran up ahead to the tree and then ran a few circles around it.

Pilliwinks and Hagan stood in silence, necks craned upwards.

"But this has to be it!" Raemor said, backing up to look up too. "There's no other tree like it in the forest!"

"Maybe it's just not glowing right now?" Pilliwinks said, trying to sound sure of himself.

Hagan looked around them, his movements cautious. 'Something feels off...' he signed.

"I better go up there to look," said Pilliwinks. "Wait here." He wrapped his body around the thick trunk and scaled it carefully in the darkness. Once he reached the spot where the mirror had been, he scanned up and down the needled branches to be sure.

"It's not here!" he called down to the others.

Where could the mirror have gone? Pilliwinks wondered to himself. Maybe they really did have the wrong tree?

"Oh no!" Raemor cried out, despair tinging her voice.

"What's wrong?" Pilliwinks called down to her.

"I think Hagan found the mirror," Raemor called back.

Quickly, Pilliwinks slid back down the length of the tree to rejoin his friends.

Hagan and Raemor were standing in the bushes nearby, looking down at something on the snow-covered ground.

Lying amongst the bushes and scattered pine needles sat a mirror, broken into at least half a dozen pieces. 'It's broken,' Hagan signed.

Pilliwinks could feel his heart lurch in his chest. Now what were they supposed to do?

'And by the looks of these tracks,' Hagan continued, pointing to the area next to the shattered mirror, 'someone, or something, did this on purpose'...

How will this story end?

Author: onlinesnail
Date: Aug 31st
For the first time during this terrifying adventure, the group did not have to think about what their next move should be. The three moved in quiet unison through the forest. The tracks were still fresh, so they knew whoever had smashed the mirror couldn’t have gone far.

The prints led towards a small hut, that looked like it had been cobbled together by a lone creature desperate to survive in the cold. That is to say that it was sturdy but far from pretty. There were items scattered around the outside, some larger ones in the snow around the hut and some smaller ones under the windows. As the group got closer, the shapes became more identifiable.

The larger items were lawn ornaments like Meerca Gnomes and Pink Lennys. The smaller items were artificial flowers in a window box.

Feeling less like they were approaching a villain’s lair and more like a hermit’s house, Pilliwinks straightened up and shook his wings out a bit to try to seem less threatening as he approached the door.

Raemor moved as if to stop him, but Hagan just put a gentle clawed hand on her shoulder and shook his head. The two of them stood near enough to hear any conversation but out of view of the doorway in case they needed the element of surprise.

Pilliwinks listened to the sound of movement inside the hut for a moment before knocking.

The sound of someone humming music on the other side of the door hadn’t been noticed until it was cut short as the knocking startled the hut’s resident.

Pilliwinks waited, trying not to hold his breath in nervous anticipation.

The silhouette of a figure passed by the window. A cautious voice called out, “Who’s there?”

“I’m terribly sorry to bother you,” Pilliwinks called back through the door, sticking with his attitude that everyone was a potential ally until proven otherwise. “I’m very lost. I don’t know where I am, but I came here by accident through a magic mirror of some sort.”

“D'not touch the mirrors!” the voice said sharply. “No good comes from ‘em!”

Pilliwinks frowned in confusion, feeling his memory being tugged at by the other’s words. “No good came from them, indeed, but I need to use them again in order to get home. That’s all I want.” He sighed. “That’s all WE want.”

"We’?” the voice inside repeated. “Who’s 'we’?”

“Me and my friends. My name is Pilliwinks. I ended up here with a young friend named Raemor. We live in a village at the heart of the Ice Caves, but when we travelled through the mirror we ended up here, in a world where that village doesn’t exist. Another friend we made has also been trapped here even longer than us. All we want to do is return to our respective homes.”

There was a beat of silence. The door opened a crack, and the familiar face of Donny the Bori peeked out.

“Donny?” Pilliwinks asked, startled by the sight of the owner of the Toy Repair Shop. “What are you doing here?”

“What’ya mean?” he asked. “This is MY house.”

“No, no, I mean HERE. This world. Are you... Did you touch a mirror too?” Pilliwinks remembered seeing Donny at his shop recently, and this Donny didn’t seem to recognize him, so he wasn’t from their world. But that didn’t rule out every other possible world these mirrors could connect.

“No,” Donny said. “I don’t make a habit of touchin’ weird mirrors that glow in the darkness of the forest.” He looked Pilliwinks up and down critically with an unspoken, ‘Unlike you,’ in his eyes.

“No, of course not.” Pilliwinks’ shoulders sagged a bit. “Well I’m glad you’re not stuck here too, but I suppose it means you probably don’t have much more of an idea how we can get home than we do.”

Donny sighed. “I might. Get yer friends and come in before ya turn into ice sculptures.”

Hagan and Raemor, who had been listening but hesitant to interrupt, took the signal to come forward and follow Pilliwinks into Donny’s hut. The main room was barely big enough to fit all four of them, though a significant amount of space was being taken up by toys in varying states of functioning. Donny navigated around them to a table nearby. On it sat one of the magic mirrors, set in a green frame.

“This is the first one I found,” Donny explained. “Right around the time when folks started disappearin’, and new folks started appearin’. It doesn’t seem to go beyond the range of these mountains, though. 'Most everyone moved away from the mountains to get out of range of the mirrors until we could figure out a solution. We sent as many Pets as we could back to their own worlds through trial and error, and then we decided to destroy ‘em. So that’s what I’ve been doin’, and I’ve been usin' this mirror here to find the others.”

Hagan gestured to get Donny’s attention and signed, ‘Did you destroy a yellow one?’

Donny nodded. “A few winters ago. That was 'yers?” He sighed. “I’m sorry. I destroyed it hopin’ to prevent this from continuing.”

Pilliwinks gestured to the red mirror they had found in the Snowager’s lair. “The tree isn’t glowing anymore, but this mirror is connected to our world. Can we use it to get home?”

“Yeah, I can activate it for ya.”

“Wait,” Raemor said. “What about Hagan? We have to get the other yellow mirror from the Snowager’s lair back home and--”

Hagan shook his head. ‘I don’t want to risk anyone’s safety more than necessary. I have been here for long enough, maybe now that I know I’m not alone in this world, I can make a new start here.’

“I could use the help,” Donny suggested. “If 'yer willing.”

Hagan smiled a bit. ‘I would like to help others like us, and prevent it from happening again if we can.’

Pilliwinks held out a wing and Hagan grasped it gently with a clawed hand. “It’s been wonderful to meet you, Hagan.”

‘You too,’ Hagan signed. He looked to Raemor, ‘Take care.’

Raemor sniffled, trying not to cry at the thought of leaving a new friend behind, but she comforted herself knowing that they had helped him leave behind the desperate search for a way home, and instead find a way to start building a new home, here. At least others in this world understood what Hagan had been through, while those who lived in his previous world may not know anything about magic mirrors or even other worlds. She gave the Skeith a hug and went to stand by Pilliwinks’ side.

Donny grabbed his hat off a coat hanger and dropped it on his head. “Stay here, new friend. I’ll be right back once I send these two home.”

Pilliwinks and Raemor followed the Bori back to the tree, where Donny carefully placed the red mirror into the tree and twisted it until it slotted into some unseen notch and began to glow.

“Thank you,” Pilliwinks said. “And please take care of our friend Hagan.”

Donny nodded in return. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but when you get back home, you must destroy the mirror you travelled here through and any others you find.”

“We will do our best,” Pilliwinks promised. “For the safety of everyone here and in our home world.” And with that, Pilliwinks the Ice Hissi and Raemor the Chocolate Xweetok waved goodbye and touched the red mirror one last time.

The End.

Author: maelstromeye
Date: Sep 1st

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