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Forest of Song

by icedesperado


The Forest of Song is like any other forest when first seen at a distance. But once inside, there is more to behold.

     Inside, there is a music that lasts a lifetime, singing from the earth, the trees, and the pets that live there. It is a sanctuary, a safe haven away from the harsher world.

     We guard the Forest, finding places for abused or abandoned souls to live, ranging from the forgotten, to the mutants, to the unloved. Any person or pet is welcome to share the song of the forest; no one is turned away. There are no guarantees when living outside the domestic society of Neopia, but there is more love than what they would find within it.

     * * *

     A young red Shoyru blinked his big eyes and fluttered to the ground as he sighted his owner. "Ice! Iiiiiiiiiice!"

     The girl smiled slightly at her pet and settled beneath a tree, a smallish bundle in her arms. Xaevian watched it with mixed feelings, happy that another pet was saved, but also feeling sorry for it, having a brief idea of what had landed the poor thing in this situation.

     "Another one?"

     Ice nodded. "I found this one lurking near the Bakery. It's a miracle I managed to convince her to come with me…" Her voice faded, then returned with a hint of whimsy. "A bit of Strawberry Shortcake was more convincing than words, however."

     The Shoyru's winds flapped silently behind them, creating a soft breeze. "Do you think she'll make it?"

     Brushing flyaway red-gold strands out of her eyes, she stared up into the canopy of the forest. Far away, Pteris chirped their contentment, and the faded laughter as a Gormball splashed was a lovely sound to her human ears. The trunk of the tree was solid against her back, and she nodded. "This one will make it here."

     * * *


     "Hey, Xaeivan!"

     He waved a paw in greeting, bypassing Myncis and Cybunnies and Kacheeks, some playing joyously, others eating fruit fallen from the trees. The atmosphere of the Forest was cheerful and bustling, the sun streaming through the openings in the canopy.

     The little green Aisha behind him looked about wondrously. "Where are we?"

     "A sanctuary," he stated, and motioned for her to stop as something caught his eye. Shooting up into a tree, carried by strong wings, he snatched at an item, then returned to his guest. "The Forest of Song," he added, as if to clarify.

     Xaevian proffered a moist Doughnut Fruit, kept cool in the shade of the forest. The Aisha accepted it, taking a slow bite to test before chewing enthusiastically, enjoying the juicy rush.

     "A sanctuary…?" she ventured.

     He grinned and nodded, gaze floating around the forest floor. Tree trunks and limbs were adorned with strands of vines, vibrant purple flowers, and the glow of fireflies shined even in the darkest shadows. Elppas, Juppies, Neggs, Banans, and Berrystars were a plenty and easily noted, the tropical variety mingling with the usual growth of greenery. Neopets collected together in groups, happily chatting or sharing the latest news.

     "A sanctuary for healing," the Shoyru explained. "A home for the abandoned or neglected pets of Neopia, where they can become stronger physically and recover spiritually."

     The Aisha's eyes were wide with curiosity and excitement. "Do all those pets live here?"

     "Until they find an owner or choose to leave on their own, they do." They were moving again, walking over the grass-patched forest floor towards a small knot of pets. One was a Chocolate Chia, her fur brown and silky. Another was a Fire Kau, horns gleaming in the thin threads of sunlight. The last was a lovely Pteri, painted Faerie.

     Xaevian noticed the Aisha was lagging behind, fearful of strangers, but didn't stop. She would need to become trusting of others again, and this was the first big step.

     At last the little one trudged up after he had been waiting for almost five minutes. He smiled at her reassuringly, and made the introductions.

     "I'm x_raine," the Aisha said nervously. "But you can call me Raine."

     Each pet, like her, had been abandoned. Left in a cage for one reason or another, they had been forgotten by the world. Ice had been the one to find them again, and bring them to a new home.

     "All of you?" she asked incredulously.

     The Pteri, Cheri933_0, smiled sadly. "Technically, she doesn't own us. But she takes care of us, and loves us as if we were her own while we search for a family."

     "You search? Isn't it the other way around?"

     "Well, I suppose it could be, but…" Her new friend shrugged. "This Forest is secluded for a reason. No one will find us here unless we want to be found."

     "Do you all live here? And how are you all so… so… beautiful?" Raine breathed, eyes lingering on the painted coats of her new friends.

     Merbyum, the Chia, shook his head. "Xaevian and Ice don't, but they visit us often."

     "And Ice took us to the Lab Ray," the Kau-Nihita72_454, or Nihita as she preferred-added, but there was a hint of apprehension in her voice. Raine shivered, remembering tales of the forbidden and terrifying "Lab Ray", rumored in the Pound to be an evil machine that turned pets into mutants. "It gave us a chance at life outside the Forest, if we ever want to take it."

     Why was this Forest so special? "How did you all… how did this place…?"

     Xaevian chuckled. "Ice can explain better than we can."

     * * *

     Red-gold hair swinging, Ice unloaded the large basket hanging from her arm, handing out warm, sticky Omelettes and delicious Jelly. Neopets took them gratefully, sharing among friends, a treat eaten with their own scavenged food. Her eyes widened in surprise as Xaevian accepted the next Omelette, and she wondered what her pet was up to this time.

     He grinned wickedly but gave it to the Aisha at his side.

     "Hullo Raine, Xaevian," she greeted brightly.

     "Raine wants to know how we came here, Ice."

     Delighted at the opportunity to tell a story, she situated herself on an overgrown mushroom. Several other pets also clustered around to hear, although most of which had already been told the tale many times over. It was a common occurrence for Icedesperado to retell the growing legend of how the Forest had come to be.

     "The Forest of Song stretches across three very small islands," she began. "Xaevian and I had found this place by accident, and enjoyed its sense of peace, treasured its solitude. But when we left, in comparison to the sweet richness of the Forest, we realized just how many tragedies and so-called lost causes there were in the world of Neopia.

     "That was when we started bringing pets here."

     She petted Xaevian's scaly head fondly before continuing. "One by one, I began labbing pets, making them stronger, faster, made them feel beautiful on the outside. The Forest, however, made them feel beautiful on the inside.

     "Slowly the Forest of Song was filled up and no longer silent. The peace is still here, but the solitude now exists in another form: music. The love and laughter and tranquility sings to the trees, and the trees sing to the pets they shelter. Happiness can be found here, in every shape, size, and song."

     Done with her story, Ice jumped to her feet, rested and ready to continue her rounds. A Uni trio backed away to let her through. "I'm going to check on the shop," she announced, "I'll be back later."

     "Bye, Ice!" the pets chorused. Xaevian waved goodbye to his owner before turning to Raine.

     "Any other questions?"

     The Green Aisha nodded, her eyes bright. "Can I stay here?"

     * * *

     The Forest of Song is like any other forest when first seen at a distance.

     But it is a special Forest, one made for the loners, leftovers, and downtrodden. The ones without hope, the ones without a path to lead them along the way. It is for any pet searching for something they had once lost… and longed to find again.

The End

With the exception of Xaevian and myself, none of the characters in this story are real, although you are welcome to believe what you like. The Forest of Song itself, while not tangibly on Neopia, is very realistic; much more than just a Forest, it is a living, breathing dream each Neopian looks forward to, as they doze off in the night.

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