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A Slew of Stars


by weewoowriter

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     He blinked with the faintest hope a manuscript would materialize within the next fraction of a second. His fortune failed him.

     A cardboard box of blank paper partially blocked the desk light that would have hit the sitting green Peophin, leaving him obscured in its shadow. Beside his desk, twinkling lights entered the bedroom from the window. Sometimes a white spaceship with green lights periodically zoomed in the sky. He found himself staring out, hoping his patience would reward him with a flash of green. He shook his head and refocused on where his lamp shone brightest—the single sheet of paper glowing with its crisp white sheen.

     Dravneel plucked the feathered quill from the ink jar and raised it above his head. He slowly inhaled, and as he exhaled, he whispered a small prayer to the creative forces in the world for enlightenment. However, his words were less than elegant and more of a desperate plea for his pen to magically write his next great Neopian novel. One moment of silence followed. Then another. He opened his eyes and found his hand frozen in the air—his writing instrument hovering over a nearly pure parchment, save for the tiny drop of ink that splattered onto the page without his noticing.

     The green Peophin got up from his desk and paced the room. He clasped his hooves behind his head and let his elbows span outward. He closed his eyes, hoping to see colorful images to spark his imagination, but nothing. Only shade, or when he circled back to his desk with the lamp, the light scratched at his eyelids.

     He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the windowsill. His eyes softened at the skies overhead. All the stars twinkling without rhyme or reason. The inexplicable wonders of space. The reverie of infinite realms and stories, just waiting to be discovered. He raised his hoof, an arrogant endeavor to grab hold of one of those possibilities and immortalize it in ink and paper, but his reach blocked by the cold, thick glass.

     Never before has he been tempted to open the window and let the bone-chilling wind scatter paper everywhere if it meant a chance at greatness. He drew himself away from the window, remembering the last time he opened his window. His owner furious at the extra logs gathered and the days spent shivering as the cabin warmed to its usual cozy atmosphere. The warmth of a happy home was a hard-earned luxury in Terror Mountain.

     He tiptoed down the hallway. No matter how stealthily, the wooden boards creaked with the slightest pressure. He stopped longingly at one of the doors and placed his ear on the door. Boisterous snores breached the door and knocked Dravneel backward. He cracked the door open, just enough for a glimpse of his friend, Axanzo, the yellow Lupe laying undignified with his limbs splayed to every side of the bed and his blanket spilling onto the floor. He closed the door as quietly as he opened it. A tiny wistful smile bloomed at his lips.

     He rolled out to the foyer. Spent minutes bundling himself with layers of scarves and coats to make him appear round as the meandering moon, Kreludor. The front door cracked open, and Dravneel’s right cheek stung from the dry chill. He persisted and shut the door behind him.

     Torches lit an otherwise dark mountaintop. Their lights trailed from the cabin to the summit center where the Snow Faerie and Mika and Carassa’s igloos stood firm against the cold. He glanced at the brightness lining the town square and grimaced. His trail of footsteps strayed from the lights and headed towards the ridge in the opposite direction.

     Each step was accompanied by a muffled crunch under his thick boots. His midnight hike weaved past trees heavily draped with grey and ended at the cliff facing away from Terror Mountain.

     He marveled at the unencumbered sight of Neopia. Tyranna’s arid landscape was a parachute ride away. Neopia Central still glittered with lights even at this hour. And Shenkuu sent a chill down the green Peophin’s spine with its silhouettes of architectural towers against the resident looming fog.

     Dravneel settled at the edge, where his legs were free to swing. He scooped snow from his side and lifted it to eye level. The mountain breeze whisked the handful of snowflakes to each corner of Neopia until each sparkle evaporated into the darkness.

     There remained a good chunk of snow in his glove. He grew impatient. Rather than letting the wind take everything, clutched the snow and threw the deformed shape over the cliff.

     He hugged his knees and sighed heavily, his breath formed a thick cloud against his stomach. The sight of his desk plagued his mind—cursed with the blank sheet of paper with the smallest inkblot in the world. He raised his arm once more, and the quill appeared in his hand. He met ink to parchment, but the words failed to imprint after each stroke. Frustrated, Dravneel scribbled with reckless abandon, but the manuscript remained pristine.

     He lifted his head and returned to the ridge with the same landscapes of Neopia in front of him. Instead of looking down from the Terror Mountain, he looked upward.

     It was the same glistening space that enamored him. This time, he paid extra attention to the cluster of stars floating atop a swirl of a vast nebula. He connected the stars, forming a triangular nose perched atop a long, horizontal muzzle of a Lupe. Ears perked, eyes gentle, and the goofiest grin that could only belong to one Neopet.

     Axanzo.

     Dravneel’s mind drifted back to his desk once again. This time, through tired eyes slowly making out a bowl of soup through tears and a yellow Lupe at the edge of the table, watching his friend wake up with paper stuck to his cheeks. The aromatic Carnapepper hit him as hard as the bitterness of premium paper he had the misfortune of accidentally licking during his nap. But what took his attention was his friend nudging the bowl closer. In the darkest of wintry nights, Dravneel was beaming.

     “Oh, distant stars. Please let my friend have the most pleasant dreams tonight.”

     Dravneel shook off the snow from his bottom and made his way back to his room. There was no piping hot soup waiting for him at his desk, and his personal effects were untouched. After sitting, his ears caught the booms of beastly snoring reverberating from the walls. He smiled and got to work.

     Words trickled onto the page like individual snowflakes. Dravneel rustled his mane and groaned. He picked up the whole sheet and crumpled it, ready to toss it against the bin, but the yellow Lupe popped into his head. He unraveled the crumpled paper and picked up his pen once again. He crossed out one word. Then a whole line. Then scribbled across an entire paragraph and replaced it with a brand new slew of words.

     He picked up the page against the light. A sizeable amount of words. Not enough for a story, but enough to build from. Yet far from presentable to anyone on any level.

     The snoring, this time, shook the rafters, and specks of dust scattered in their descent. Dravneel picked up another sheet of paper and rewrote his draft, clearer, adding imagery, themes, and even a bit of his trademark snark. He lifted the completed worksheet to the light and moaned. He crossed out an entire line. In the margins, he wrote what-ifs, new possibilities that he never would have thought of if he didn’t write the initial drafts.

     Axanzo’s snoring continued, and Dravneel smiled again. With a newly wettened quill and a fresh sheet, he propelled his story forward.

     He brought the third draft up against the light and blinked several times, his eyes too weary of reading any further. He turned off the lamp and headed to bed to catch some sleep before the sun rises.

     On his desk laid his third draft, neater with no cross-outs. In the margins, he noted places to improve, ideas to explore. At the top left was a crudely drawn star constellation of a Lupe with ears perked, eyes gentle, and the goofiest smile.

The End.

 
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