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A Holly, Jolly Snowman


by 77thbigby

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15th day of Celebrating, Y14

     Legend-a Woodland Uni-was well bundled up against the cold, but he still felt the chill against his pale bark. It had been a long trip from Meridell to Terror Mountain, but Lofty had assured him it would be worth it. Thankfully, Lofty-a Baby Yurble-was waiting for him at the airport. They had been friends for years, but this was the first time Legend had ever made the effort to visit Lofty in his home region. After all, it was the month of Celebrating, the best season to be on Terror Mountain (or so Lofty said).

      The two friends wended their way through the throng of ‘pets also arriving and joined the crowds that filled Happy Valley every holiday season. Their voices cut through the cold air with cheer and laughter, the sound of carolling adding a pleasant undertone. The smell of nutmeg and fresh Borovan beckoned enticingly. Everywhere one looked was red and green, twinkling lights and sparkling snow. It was a far cry from Meridell.

     Legend had to admit it was a sight to behold.

      It was the smell of fresh pine, however, that drew his attention. As a Woodland Uni and member of the Neopian Planter Society (NPS), Legend had at first been sceptical of the value of going to Terror Mountain. It was a land of perpetual ice and snow, notorious for the difficulty of getting anything to grow. Yet, Lofty had persisted, and the Baby Yurble was hard to resist. Perhaps Lofty had been right after all.

      As they drew closer, the scent was revealed to be coming from a Christmas tree lot. Fresh, full evergreen trees of various heights created a miniature forest in the heart of the village. ‘Pets admired the trees and debated whether they could really fit a six-footer into their cottage.

      “You are really not afraid of me?” a Rainbow Lupe asked.

      A Snow Chia replied, “Nope! I am made of snow. Does that really sound tasty to you?”

      The Lupe looked sheepish. “No, I guess not.”

      Legend and Lofty may have passed right by, but then the Snow Chia spotted them.

      “Lofty!”

      “Snomaker!”

      The two friends greeted each other warmly, and Lofty made the introductions.

      “A real pleasure, Legend,” Snomaker said. “Though, we certainly do not get many Woodland ‘pets here.”

      Legend smiled. “Well, our mutual friend here is tough to turn down.”

      Snomaker grinned while Lofty shuffled his feet though neither denied the truth of the statement.

      “I was hoping to meet the owner of this lot,” Legend said. “They seem to run a brisk business, and they clearly know their stuff.”

      “Well, thank you!” Snomaker replied. “I do love my work!”

      Legend was pleasantly surprised by this revelation. “How long have you had this lot?”

      “Just got it this month, but I should not have to tell you that I have lived on the mountain my entire life.”

      “He knows the mountain even better than me,” Lofty put in.

      Legend’s eyes widened. “Now that is saying something.”

      The Baby Yurble had not been born and raised on Terror Mountain, having first visited when he was eleven. Despite the harsh environment, Lofty had been drawn to it and visited the mountain as often as his family allowed him to get away with. Over the years, he had become as familiar with Terror Mountain as any native. When he had turned eighteen that past spring, he made the move from Neopia Central to Terror Mountain permanent. He was clearly thriving in his new home.

      Legend cast an appreciative glance over the Christmas tree lot. “You also seem to know trees.”

      Snomaker beamed. “Thank you! The Christmas tree is the heart of the home during the holiday season, diverse as the homes they reside in. Their fresh scent, never changing foliage and resilience in the harshest weather make them a signature not only of the holiday season but also of the mountain.”

      As the Snow Chia talked, his passion for the subject came through loud and clear. Legend recognised himself in the snowman.

      “Snomaker, would you be interested in joining the Neopian Planter Society?” Legend asked.

      “I have never heard of it,” Snomaker admitted.

      “NPS is a worldwide organisation that includes anyone and everyone with an interest in flora. I think you would be an ideal member.”

      “I do not know about that,” Snomaker said slowly. “Terror Mountain does not have much in the way of flora, as I am sure you have noticed. All I really know about is evergreens.’

      “That is great!” Legend assured. “Members of the NPS exchange knowledge on our various areas of expertise.”

      “Do ‘pets really wanna learn about Christmas trees?”

      “Absolutely!”

      Snomaker looked thoughtful. “I have never left Terror Mountain before. Snow does not handle anything except freezing temperatures well,” Snomaker said with a vague gesture towards himself.

      “I am sure we could figure something out! If all else fails and it makes you more comfortable, the NPS can and does travel. We hold our annual meetings in a different location every year.”

      “I do not know,” Snomaker said with a slight frown.

      “Please consider it. At the very least, you could be a guest lecturer,” Legend urged. “I will be here through the Day of Giving. Could you give me an answer by then?”

      “Yes, I will have made up my mind by then,” Snomaker agreed.

      “I look forward to your answer!” Legend exclaimed. “I can see you are busy, but I am so glad to have had the chance to meet you.”

      “I am never too busy for friends,” Snomaker said. “Enjoy your stay on Terror Mountain, Legend! It is the best season to be on the mountain, you know.”

     ~ ~ ~

      The next ten days passed in a flurry. Lofty showed Legend the mountain and all it had to offer. With Lofty as his guide, the other natives welcomed Legend warmly, treating him as they would a friend. He was able to do some holiday shopping and bought gifts for his family back home, including his sweetheart. He also went to many a party and participated in all the other traditions of the season. It gave the Woodland Uni a new perspective of the region, but it still was not his favourite place.

      That honour belonged to Meridell. Its wide open spaces and bucolic atmosphere were where he thrived. The temperate environment was easier for his Woodland heart to manage. Everything that mattered most to him was there. He missed his big house, his garden and his books.

      At last, it was time to go home.

      On the way to the airport, they stopped at Snomaker’s.

      “Do you have an answer for me?” Legend asked.

      “Yes,” Snomaker said. “I appreciate the offer, but I just do not feel like the NPS is the best fit for me. However, I would be willing to share my expertise on occasion, outside of my busy season, of course.”

      “I understand, and I am glad you have not written us off completely. I will bring it up with the other members so expect to hear from us soon!” Legend waved goodbye, already thinking about how best to connect the NPS with the holly, jolly snowman.

 
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