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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 135 > Short Stories > Before the Beast

Before the Beast

by mrs_fluff

Author's note: Hi! This is my first time at writing for the Neopian Times, but I would like to do it more often. So, if you like this story (and even if you don't!) please Neomail me. This story is a variation on the legend of Balthazar, whom I think is a very interesting character. Put on some sad music and get ready to cry.

Rain poured down outside, but inside the small Neohome, all was peaceful and safe. A fire roared and crackled in the stone fireplace, making the small wooden house cozy. Though it only had two rooms, it was all the blue Lupe mother could ever want or expect to receive to raise her child in. But she told herself that it was okay, that wealth or space did not matter, just love. And she was going to raise her pup with tender care, and bring him up to be a good, strong Lupe who would become a hero and a leader, like her partner had been, before he had been taken in a clash between good and evil Lupe packs...

     But she didn't like to think about that. Of course, clashes between good and bad, and light and dark, were bound to happen when you lived in a house on the edge of the Haunted Woods. She wished she could find a better place for her son, but it was all she had, and she had to hang on to it.

     The Lupe mother sat in a worn chair by the fire, feeding her pup from a little bottle. He cooed and growled, nipping at her playfully. She smiled, her tired eyes looking from the child's innocent face into the dying flames. This was the perfect life, she told herself. And nothing could ever take it away from her.

****************

A few hours later, the mother, eyes wide with terror and shock, clutched her pup and leaned against the wall, trying to support herself, a task which her wobbly legs were failing to accomplish. "Leave me alone!" she shrieked.

     The Pant Devil, hovering before her, said, "Of course I won't. I'm sure you're familiar with me. Have I ever gone away without getting what I came for?"

     "Please..." the mother whispered with a trembling voice, the words barely escaping her tightening throat. "There's a first time for everything."

     "Gaa, mommy..." said the innocent little baby.

     The Pant Devil looked at the mother, his red eyes studying her. She wasn't very wealthy, he could tell. He wouldn't be able to get much valuable off of her. He had broken into her house for no particular reason, but it was right on the edge of his Woods and had been tempting him for a while.

     "Give me the child," he barked at last.

     "No," she breathed, tears coming out of her eyes as hard and fast as the rain outside.

     "Yes!" shouted the Pant Devil, just as a huge clap of thunder shook the very foundations of the house.

     "Never!" screamed the poor Lupess. "You'll never take him!" She burst past the Pant Devil and threw open her front door. She dashed out into the open, the rain immediately soaking her as if she had just gotten out of a lake. She glanced in one direction and saw nothing but open fields and Neopia Central in the distance. If she went that way, she could surely be caught. She needed a place to hide. Without further thought, she plunged into the deep, dark Haunted Woods, still clutching her child to her chest.

     On and on she ran, dodging trees and hurting her bare feet on sharp sticks and stones, but she had to keep going. She wondered what the Pant Devil wanted with her son. Perhaps it was just that she had nothing else to give the thief but the one closest to her.

     At last, a twig tripped her felt herself quickly falling, but she turned quickly so that she did not fall on the pup. She hit the ground with a thud, then lay there for a second, with the rain pounding her in the face. Her heart and mind told her to get up, and she tried as hard as she could, but she was so tired... so tired...

****************

She awoke sometime later. She did not know how long she had slept, only that her whole body ached and that night had fallen. The rain had stopped at least, but the ground that she lay on was still muddy and was sticking to her fur in matted clumps. She did not know what she was doing on the ground in the Haunted Woods, but then it all rushed back to her. The Pant Devil, the running, her pup. Where was her pup?

     She scrambled to her feet, pain shooting into her joints. She looked around madly, but then the pain overtook her. She sank to the ground again, but looked towards the cloudy sky. "I... I will never stop looking until I find you, son!" she screamed.

****************

Meanwhile, that same son was being set down on a hollow old log by the Pant Devil.

     "I don't know what I wanted you for, you whiney thing!" the blue thief shouted. "You stay here. I don't care what happens to you. No one will want you. I'm off to find something better to steal." With that, he zipped off through the trees.

     "...Mommy?" said the little Lupe at last, but his mother was nowhere in sight. Nothing was, except for many black, leafless trees.

     And then... a few glimmering specks of emerald light appeared. They grew larger, then flew down to him. They were Earth Faeries, so small that the five of them could sit on the tiny pup's nose. But soon, hundreds of them appeared, and between them there was enough good magic to lift up the Lupe and carry him far off through the forest.

     The child watched in amazement as he flew through the woods on a green cloud of magic, with faeries surrounding him like a protective bubble. After a few minutes, the trees they passed started to have more and more leaves on them, and there was green grass on the ground. The faeries had taken him to a secret, beautiful edge of the woods that only they knew about.

     It was here that the child was raised for the next few months, until he was a healthy young adolescent. The faeries taught him which nuts and berries he could eat to survive, which plants were curing herbs and which would make him sick, and other useful information. It was a happy and carefree time for him. He had lots of fun and never worried about a thing. The faeries named him "Balthazar" and raised him with loving care.

     But Dark Faeries outnumbered Earth Faeries in the Haunted Woods a thousand to one, and they hated the Earth Faeries for their pure hearts and love, just as other faeries hated the Dark ones because of their evil. Whenever the Dark Faeries in the Haunted Woods could do something to harm or upset the colony of Earth Faeries that lived there, they did it without hesitation. And it wasn't long before they caught word of the Earth Faerie's little Lupe pup.

     So one day, Galadia, the large faerie who was closest to Balthazar and acted as his personal teacher and sort-of mother, and Balthazar were out in the dark part of the Woods, the Dark Faeries struck.

     Galadia was just pointing out a poisonous fruit to Balthazar, who looked on with his usual curiosity, when an army of thousands of three-inch tall Dark Faeries burst out of the surrounding trees, cackling madly. Balthazar barked in shock, and Galadia reached out to grab him, but it was too late. The Dark Faeries had clustered around him and were bearing him up, up, and away to an even darker part of the forest.

     Over the next few days, he would be laughed at, tormented, and made fun of by the Dark Faeries, They fed him only the driest and most rotten fruit, which tasted disgusting and made Balthazar feel sick. They kept him in a cage and cast spells on him, trying to turn him evil and make him big and strong so that they could use him as a weapon. But all the dark magic failed. He just became very thin and sad, so after four days of pain, they let him out of the cage and left him alone in a lonely part of the Woods.

     "You are of no use to us," one Dark Faerie spat at the poor shivering Lupe. Nearly all of his bones were visible, because he had not eaten anything healthy all of the time he had been prisoner. When that faerie left, Balthazar was engulfed in total darkness, without even her faint purple glow. He cried inconsolably, and finally fell asleep.

****************

When he awoke, he could remember almost nothing, such a bad state was his body in. He just remembered the painful events of the night when the Pant Devil had snatched him away, because that was such a strong memory that it was forever burned into his mind, and the things that had happened very recently: the Dark Faeries' torture. Everything else was a blur. He concluded that the Dark Faeries must have gotten him from the Pant Devil, and he had been being ridiculed by them ever since. His stomach hurt with hunger, and dirt was ground into his fur. He could only remember one more thing: his name, Balthazar.

     He saw purple lights in the distance, and heard the faint laughter of a few Faeries. Balthazar growled and gnashed his teeth. "I'll get my revenge," he barked. "I will. You'll see, Faeries! And I'll find my mother, too!"

****************

The years went by, and because of his bitter hatred, Balthazar evolved into the Faerie-catching and petpet-eating monster we know today. He forgot his mother, but she never forgot him. Somewhere out there, she is still looking. She knows of Balthazar, just like everyone else in Neopia does, but it never crossed her mind that that beast is her beloved, sweet son.

The End


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