Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 176,283,379 Issue: 341 | 2nd day of Hunting, Y10
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A Lesson Learned

by dawnaurora


"Hurry up and finish your breakfast, Kerovu. We're going to be late!"

      Kerovu glanced over at his sister, Linnia, who was standing by the kitchen door with her Angelpuss backpack on her back and a pencil behind her ear. The plushie Cybunny was obviously very anxious to get to where she was going, which was, of course, Neoschool. Kerovu, however, was not so eager to go. He begrudgingly finished his Neocrunch cereal, picked up his school supplies, and, after a brief goodbye to his owner, followed his sister out the front door and into the bright Meridell sunshine.

      "Isn't Meridell so pretty this time of year?" Linnia asked, her voice full of excitement. "The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the leaves are just starting to change... what a wonderful time to start Neoschool."

      "It's a perfect day to be inside, practicing my trumpet in the comfort of my own room," the royal Cybunny replied, annoyed at his sister's cheerfulness. "It's windy out here. Besides, we already know everything there is to know. We've both read tons of books, and I go to the training school at least once a week. What could we possibly learn at Neoschool that we can't learn somewhere else?"

      "Oh, you never know, Kerovu," she said, a mysterious expression on her face. "You never know."

      After a long walk through Meridell's hills and forests (with much grumbling from Kerovu about the quality of the path they were walking along), the two emerged from the forest to discover a one-story wooden building in a small clearing. It was about the size of their neohome. A sign in the yard read "Woodgrove Neoschool" in faded, rust-colored letters. A few neopets were standing around, chatting pleasantly with one another.

      Linnia gasped when she saw it. "Oh, look, Kerovu! Here it is! It's exactly like I imagined it would be!" She bounded forward into the schoolyard and excitedly introduced herself to a small group of other Cybunnies.

      Kerovu stayed back on the path, not quite sure what to do with himself. A moment later, a yellow Kau in a blue T-shirt appeared at the door of the school and blew the whistle she was wearing around her neck. "All right, everyone," she announced. "Come on inside. If your name starts with A through M, go to the gym. That's down this hall. If it starts with N through Z, go to the lunchroom." She gestured at a set of double doors behind her. "We'll sort you into your classes from there." At that, she blew her whistle one more time and the students started filing in through the doors.

      Not at all to Kerovu's surprise, Linnia had already made friends with the three Cybunnies to whom she had introduced herself. She was too busy chatting with them to notice that her brother was still standing on the forest path, backing slowly toward the trees. The yellow Kau had apparently not noticed either and went inside after the last few students had filed through the door.

      After he was sure everyone was inside, Kerovu crept toward the school and listened at one of the lunchroom windows. "Everyone, my name is Miss Stryke." Kerovu recognized the voice as that of the yellow Kau. "The other teachers and I are going to sort you into grade level now based on the number of books you've read. Zero to ten, come with me. Eleven to thirty, you'll go with Mr. Leer..."

      Kerovu stopped paying attention and let his eyes wander back over to the forest. He was startled by a sudden flash of light somewhere in the trees. He narrowed his eyes and took a few steps toward where he'd seen it. There was a silver sign nailed to one of the trees. It said simply, "This Way." Underneath was an arrow pointing into the forest.

     His curiosity piqued, Kerovu set off in the direction of the arrow. After a few minutes of walking, the trees and underbrush became very thick, so that he had to jump over the various fallen logs and bushes on the forest floor. He soon spotted another silver sign with the same sort of writing as the last. This one said, "Keep Going." Kerovu did so, his curiosity intensifying with every step. He caught the third sign out of the corner of his eye and trotted over to it excitedly. It read, "Down." The Cybunny glanced at his feet and saw a hole in the ground just big enough for him to fit through.

      "That's interesting," Kerovu thought. "It looks like it leads somewhere. Maybe I should go down there and see what sort of wonderland is waiting for me." He grinned, thinking of what his sister and his owner might say if they knew what he was about to do. He closed his eyes and jumped into the hole.

      Kerovu fell for what seemed to him like a very long time, although in reality it was little more than a second; the hole was not particularly deep. He landed with a soft thud on a pile of brush, leaves, and vines. "That was better than I expected," he thought, and opened his eyes. The place that greeted him was not a wonderland at all, but a cave-like room with plain but serviceable furnishings: a bed made of leaves and straw, a table from a tree stump, and chairs that were mounds of earth. He wondered what sort of creatures lived in a place like this instead of a comfortable, prettily furnished neohome such as his.

      Just then, two small Usuls emerged into the room from a tunnel Kerovu hadn't noticed before. One of the Usuls, a red one, shrieked when she saw him and hid her face in her paws. The other, this one blue, regarded Kerovu. "Don't mind my sister," he said, patting his sister's shoulder reassuringly. "She's never been comfortable around strangers since..." He trailed off and looked around the cave uneasily. He coughed slightly and continued, "Please, sit down. I'm sorry there isn't a better chair, but we've rather had to make do since our escape." He made a slight gesture toward one of the mounds of dirt circling the tree stump table. "By the way, my name is Kiall and this is Sirene."

      Kerovu was now quite intrigued. "Escape?" he queried. "What happened to you?" He sat down on the makeshift chair and rested his head on his paw, waiting for the tale.

      "It's kind of a long story," Kiall said sadly, "but I'll try not to take up too much of your time with it. You see, my sister and I were abandoned. When we were very little we had a nice owner taking care of us. She fed us and cared for us and loved us... well, we thought she did. Then, about a year ago, she decided she didn't have time for us anymore and she put us in the pound for someone else to adopt. It was all right in there, since we at least had each other, but as the days went by and nobody adopted us, we started to lose hope. Sirene started crying herself to sleep."

     Kiall sighed deeply, then continued. "After our first month there, we started hearing... things. Dr_Death and the others talking, I mean. What we heard wasn't good. Not long after, the pound was closed to Neopians wanting to adopt. At that point we knew we'd never get adopted, and I knew we had to escape. I couldn't- wouldn't- stand to let poor Sirene suffer in our little cage any longer. So one day I waited until after we were fed and the door to our cage was locked for the night, then I made my move. I used a piece of our Usul wheel that I'd broken off to open the cage's lock, climbed down with Sirene and escaped out the window. They usually left the windows cracked on warm nights to let us have a bit of fresh air, which was lucky for us or we never would've gotten out. After our escape, we didn't know where to go or what to do, but a kind old faerie we passed on the road told us that Meridell was very nice this time of year. So that's where we went. Once we got here, we spent some time digging out this cave and furnishing it the best way we knew how, and we've been living here ever since. Mostly we eat berries and nuts we find in the forest, since the Giant Omelette's so far away," he finished, answering Kerovu's unasked question.

      Kerovu stared at them, his eyes traveling from one to the other and back. "Wow, that's awful. I had no idea there were pets living in the forest all alone." He paused, a puzzled expression coming over his face. "But... why aren't you living in the trees? I always thought Usuls lived in trees."

      "It's dangerous out there," said Kiall, gesturing at the forest. "Besides, we didn't want to live in something that could be struck by lightning. Meridell gets some awful storms sometimes and my sister's so scared of them that I couldn't make her live in a tree."

     Sirene, who had been curled up against the wall during Kiall's story, nodded slightly, taking comfort in the solidity of the wall behind her. Her eyes seemed to light up with a sudden burst of courage and she said, "So why are you here?"

      The Cybunny blushed slightly. "I'm... I'm supposed to be at Neoschool with my sister, but I didn't go. I saw those signs out there and I had to follow them."

      "What signs?"

      "Oh, you know, the silver ones. The ones leading right here."

      "We never put up any signs. We don't want anyone to find us- they'd just take us back to the pound and tell how we escaped, then we'd be in big trouble."

      "Oh. Then... who did?"

      Kiall shrugged. "Beats me," he said. "I guess you'd better get along to Neoschool before you're too late, don't you think?"

      "Probably." Kerovu's eyes brightened as an idea came to him. "Hey, would you two like to come with me? I wouldn't let them take you back to the pound, I promise. Maybe you could even... Well, we'll see what happens after, okay?"

      The two Usuls agreed to come with him and the group headed back to Woodgrove Neoschool. They were about twenty minutes late, but Miss Stryke, who found them, didn't seem to mind and directed them to their respective classrooms. All through the schoolday, Kerovu was distracted by thoughts of Kiall and Sirene, the two small Usuls he'd found living alone in a mere hole in the ground. He himself had a big, comfortable neohome with all the food he could want, a caring owner, and an opportunity to go to Neoschool without fear of being taken anywhere. By the time the bell rang at the end of the day, Kerovu realized he had indeed learned something- he lived a privileged life. And perhaps now he had an opportunity to share it with pets in need.

      When Kerovu's owner, Dawn, came up the path out of the woods to greet him and Linnia and walk them home, he approached her quite seriously and said, "Dawn, may these two Usuls stay with us?"

      Though rather taken aback at the suddenness of the question, she was delighted at the prospect of two new pets staying with them. "Of course they may!"

      Linnia, too, seemed excited. If Dawn decided she wanted to adopt them, she'd finally have a sister of her own!

      As the group walked back to their home at Peaky Stone, Kerovu explained to Dawn what Kiall had told him and, at the end of his little speech, implored her to adopt the pair, permanently. Several weeks later, after Dawn had obtained special permission from Fyora, Kiall and Sirene officially became part of the family. Linnia was delighted to have gotten her own sister, Kerovu finally had someone to listen to his trumpet practices, and Dawn fawned over the pair all the time. Back in the forest, Illusen smiled happily at the empty burrow she'd been watching over for so long.

The End

This is my first story- I hope you liked it!

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