A Faerie Christmas
Also by eyewan2fly
Welcome to the Christmas Edition of the Neobook Library.
Whilst perusing the book store one fine morning with Tayene, it suddenly occurred to me: our pets get to read the books and then they mysteriously vanish before we, the buyers and legitimate owners, get the chance to! We spend good money on books for our pets, and all we get back are puffs of smoke - not even so much as a refund from the sellers. Very hard to write a "Thank You" letter to Auntie for her kind gift when you haven't had the chance to read it yourself.
So, I spent a small fortune gathering together a collection of novels from around Neopia and wearing out many a pencil on my Christmas list this year, in order to bring the books to you.
Are we all sitting comfortably? Got your mince pies and mulled apple? Then let us begin...
Back in November 2000, deep in the Northern Wildernesses of Neopia, an icestorm brewed; thick, black clouds gathered at the pinnacle of Terror Mountain as a crew of determined, brave Kacheeks began mapping this previously undiscovered terrain. Agile, calm-natured, thick-furred and champion racers, Kacheeks make for ideal explorers of dangerous terrain... well, except for one little Kacheek: Lacheeksie.
Never the most fleet-footed of pets and rather clumsy by nature, Lacheeksie carried the materials for taking down detailed sketches of the rock plains, the dangerous drifts and the older trees as guiding landmarks for those that followed. Laden down with maps and bags, she stumbled and tripped along, draggling behind the rest of the team as they ventured further and further into the mountains. Falling over another loose boulder, she paused to collect her pencils when suddenly, a sharp flurry of snow flashed through the valley. It swept our slow little friend in a mini-avalanche of driving snow and buried her in a drift dropped by the sparse giant firs...
Shivering, she pulled herself out of the icy swathe - unaware that the Pant Devil was taking advantage of the distraction to sneak up on her! With a wicked chuckle the dastardly beast gave her a firm shove, sending her tumbling over and over down the slope; and vanished in a poof of purple smoke and laughter, stealing her Ice Totem as he went.
Required to pass over the bridges, no Totem meant no way in, or out, of the valleys. The only place to buy one was at Kauvara’s Magic Shop, all the way back in Neopia Central - over the icebridge back to the Lupe's village. The team had spares, but they had already crossed the next into the foothills. So there she stayed for the moment, stranded in the icy cold mountains, trapped on a ridge midway down the steep incline. The clouds rolled over thicker and darker, the sun dropping behind the hills and fresh layers of snow forever falling...
Perched on her portable cloud, Fyora the Faerie Queen took the long journey up the dangerous mountain to see her sister Taelia, the Snow Faerie, at the very top. Packed alongside her were new supplies for trading and turning into mystical weapons: Ice Scorchstones, Ice Dice; all the frosty rarities. After all, who else has the ability to take a Fire Potion, an Ice Crystal and a Sword of Knowledge and then turn it into the legendary Fire and Ice Blade? Taelia's famous for her alchemy and icy items!
The research team paused to take readings and shout measurements through the surging snowflakes back to Lacheeksie... and suddenly discovered she wasn't there! This was nothing new, as she was such a slow Kacheek, so they grumbled and tracked back to find her. Searching up and down the path, their footprints already obliterated by the falling snow, they couldn't trace her route. It was too dangerous to stay on the hillside much longer and, as the hour was already late, it was agreed that they would have to push on to safety at the next stop point and hope Lacheeksie had just wandered off-course. It happened a lot, so she'd meet them at the camp, surely?
As the snow continued to fall, the ice biting hard and darkness covering the mountainside, Lacheeksie came round momentarily to find herself freezing atop a snowy ledge. Everything was white... grey... black... gone. The frost had set in so hard, the poor little Kacheek was slowly turning to ice - a real-life snowpet, frozen to the side of the mountain...
Twiddling idly with a few bottles, waiting for the stove-kettle to boil, Fyora commented: "You know, I tell all the Neopians these magical artefacts are centuries old, and they always believe it! You get a much better price for antiques, though."
Taelia chuckled and reached for a crystal, then paused and looked up sharply: "Did somebody turn the thermostat down???"
"No." Fyora looked out of the window. "But it is blowing a grand blizzard out there if that helps."
Taelia put down the glassy shard and headed out of the door, letting in a flurry of flakes. "Something's not right. C'mon..."
Out on the cloud, battling against the heaviest of winds, Taelia and Fyora scanned the rocky land. "Something is definitely afoot, Fyora."
Fyora squinted into the squall. "Yep. That's definitely a foot."
Taelia frowned: "What?"
Her sister leaned over and pointed... "There." They dived in a tight curl,landing close along the ridge and ran across the perilously slippery ice. Bracing against the blistering cold winds, they carefully examined the fading yellow Kacheek-shaped lump of ice.
Taelia summoned her famous healing abilities as Fyora dug in her voluminous cloak, retrieving a rare and precious Kacheek Life Potion. "This might not work you know..."
"That might be true, but it's still worth a try - there's a shadow of a soul still snared in there." The half-frozen potion slopped over poor Lacheeksie in a slushy splatter, threatening to solidify even as the faeries' magics and chants pushed the viscous liquid into every ice crystal.
Slowly, slowly, the glassy shards creaked and bent, the faeries chanted louder, a whisper barely audible beneath it all: "..."
Taelia smiled and added a dose of fire magic to strengthen the flame of the little Kacheek's spirit as Fyora carefully uprighted her fragile, frozen body. "There, that should do it - how're you feeling?"
Carefully, Lacheeksie blinked. "Cold, but impressed," she juddered. "Power like that is truly a gift to the world!"
Taelia laughed. "No kidding, we've got the magic and the skills, but heck, I have so many snowballs in my collection I can barely give them away! It takes FAR too long to keep going down the mountain and handing them out to random passers by."
Fyora raised her eyebrows, "Hey, now here's a good idea..." Inspired by this one little Kacheek's excitement and optimism in spite of her shortcomings, and after much deliberation between the team, it was decided that a simple log to bear up against the extreme weather conditions all year long, but cutesy in a proper "olde winter time" feel; a place to get warm, have some cocoa and a candy cane before braving the rest of the world. It should also be big enough to cope with the sheer masses of people making their Christmas trek and built at the centre of Happy Valley as there was plenty of space in the foothills. The permafrost layer there was deep enough to act as a natural firm foundation, even with the wearing of millions of feet for many years to come.
Mucking around with spades would take forever; the snow would fall faster than anyone could ever clear it, so Taelia blew up a small storm as Fyora created a protective bubble. The wind howled and whipped around them - and blew off the first fine layers of snow from the building site. Little clumps of snow dropped in through Fyora's bubble and began to stick to Lacheeksie's icy form. "Ooh, this could be useful!" She ducked out of the defensive field, into the controlled blizzard.
Taelia looked worried. "What IS she doing?"
And it slowly became clear: Lacheeksie's unnaturally chilly form forced the flying snowflakes to stick to her, a rime of ice attracting more to settle, literally pulling them out of the air around her - and clearing up the loose snow much faster than the wind alone could manage. She grinned. "A rake is more effective than a blower when you're clearing the garden of leaves, and the same applies here!"
Lacheeksie giggled and laughed, as the flakes tickled when they landed. She laughed so hard that she fell over and rolled on the floor, promptly turning into a large snowball as she went. The faeries laughed even louder and pushed her round the clearing, mopping up more and more snow, leaving behind a nice flat surface and a HUGE round snowball. With a loud sneeze the ball broke up, falling away in clumps, revealing Lacheeksie at the centre. "There - that should do it!"
Her natural lack of haste ensured she could take the time to appreciate every aspect of the new building; she wanted to make sure it would be PERFECT for all the people collecting their gifts at Christmas time. With this in mind, they carefully planned out the structure - the snow was easy enough to obtain, there was plenty of it, but the other materials required wouldn't be: it was a LONG way from anywhere across the ice! After a great deal of thinking, Fyora suddenly hit on a solution: A magical portal to allow items to be sent from anywhere to arrive right where they were needed! Within minutes, supplies were appearing from all round Neopia!
Sifting through the first delivery, the little gang pulled on new pairs of sturdy Denim Coveralls and grabbed their Maractite Battle Hammers; whilst favoured by members of the Maraquan guard, these aren't just useful in battle - they're one of the few tools strong enough to put a nail into Mystery Island's native palm wood. It's the only building material in all of Neopia to carry its own warmth from years in the tropical sunshine; a natural defence against the damage inflicted by raging icestorms and perfect for setting the feel of the place: warm and safe.
The beams went in, the floorboards down and the faeries used their magic to heft the heavy logcabin-style walls into place. A Jetsam Fish Bone Saw made quick work of opening spaces for the Colourful Snowy Windows, and the elegant Red Brick Fireplace's chimney flue. Startling Red Terror Mountain Floor Tiles went down, complimenting the terracotta bricks of the fireplace and adding a protective layer of warmth to the floor. As the last of the supplies dropped in, along with a pot of hot, fresh stew from Jhuidah, the faeries started to tidy up the worst of the mess before working on the finishing touches; Taelia's nifty little breeze swept away the sawdust as Lacheeksie gingerly polished a newly installed window.
"Actually, that portal spell can stay. It'll make life a lot easier getting the gifts here, won't it!" Fyora pondered the matter. "Looks a bit messy round the edges, though; how can we tidy it up?"
"The fireplace!" Lacheeksie suddenly shouted. The faeries looked at her. "It should be hidden in the fireplace of course. That way all the Neopians can receive their presents in the traditional way!" Yes, indeed, Fyora's cleverly installed portal was ideal for the faeries; just summon up a casting spell, the items would pop out of existence and reappear safely in the new building, just as if you-know-who had been to visit!
Tempted into the area by the works on the "Advent House", Kari the Negg Faerie had a quiet look round the valley herself. Whilst it was a bit too humdrum in the actual valley, the Ice Caves had her enchanted. Rumours of the great beast that hid there didn't worry her, but they did keep property taxes down!
Approaching the little team hard at work, she observed them for a while. "What's going on?"
Fyora, having paused for a quick break, looked up. "We're working on a project to give gifts to all of Neopia at wintertime."
Kari raised a green eyebrow. "Neat." Being a shrewd faerie, she quickly figured that the Calendar would bring significantly more custom to the area... so now would be a good time to get in on the ground floor as it were, before it got popular and harder to purchase space. "I'll do you a trade if you're interested. Help me with building my new Neggery, and I'll donate any leftover Neggs each December."
Fyora considered the matter and shook her head. "We can already get plenty of old rotten Neggs - they go off too quickly."
Kari cracked her secretive smile. "Ahh. But here's where things are going to be changing. I intend to build the new Neggery HERE."
Fyora looked surprised. "Really? What for?"
The Negg Faerie grinned broadly now. "Lots of reasons. The cold will keep the Neggs fresher for longer, it'll help them mature at a better rate and it will keep away the Slorgs, saving money on Slorg Flakes!"
Trekking into the Ice Caves together to look at the spot Kari had chosen, Taelia summoned huge masses of snow, forming a great pile onto the slippery, hard permafrost. Lacheeksie used her newfound skill: intensely cold hands welded the soft flakes into a tough coating, boosted with Fyora's enchantments. Kari infused each clump with essence of negg, and arranged a means to hollow out the insides. Packing the Negg Bomb deep into the middle, the faeries ducked for cover as it triggered off with an impressive THUMP and rumble.
"That was AWESOME!" yelled Fyora over the grumbling echoes.
Kari grinned. "Eh, it's amazing what happens when you accidentally crosspollinate a Bang Bang Negg with a Fireball Negg!"
Impressively the Negg-powered shell that Lacheeksie had moulded stayed intact, creating sturdy, thick walls around a cavernous chamber and a vaulted ceiling.
"Hey, look what happened!" Taelia pointed to the roof, where a huge icicle had fallen in the blast.
Some of the snow had landed on it, giving it a jaunty angle... and as they stepped back, Kari realised: "Ooh, it looks JUST like a big snowy Negg! Perfect!"
Taelia patted the thick shell. "Well, combining Snow Magic and Negg magic, there's no wonder it turned out negg-shaped."
A Bottle of White Sand liberally scattered kept the floor clear of dangerous slippery patches and provided better traction underfoot, as well as a non-slip base for all the shelves she would need. With a whisper and a wave, her storeroom was filled to bursting with Neggs and bottles and plants from her Mystery Island home. With a sudden, audible "POP", a rack of Negg bushes in pots burst into fruit: Ice Neggs!
Kari was quietly delighted. "It's taken forever to get those to grow! The cold must have finally triggered them. Help yourself to as many as you need, I'm going to have PILES of the things."
Kari followed them back down to the Valley, laden with fresh, beautiful Neggs. The little house stood proudly on it's icy foundations, the soft, golden light from the windows glowing warmly as the darkness fell. At last, a solution to everyone's overstocking problems, and a great way to make sure all of Neopia got their Christmas presents! Over the next few days, faeries arrived from all round Neopia, bringing their extra items to be given as gifts; slushies, petpets, snowballs, neggs, totems, ice creams, more neggs, NP, even a mysterious faerie with red spotty bandana and yellow wings appeared with plates upon plates of Turkey Dinners.
"I discovered I love to cook, nearly as much as I love playing Snowball Fight! It's so satisfying to help people who need it. I might have to do this full time..."
With Fyora coordinating presents from all over, Taelia took Lacheeksie up to the top of the mountain to her igloo home. "Let's see what we can do about you then." For months, they worked on recreating how Lacheeksie froze, trying to puzzle out how it was she survived. When Summertime came round, it didn't see the snow vanish from the mountains, but the slightly milder climate allowed for the more unusual neggs to flourish in the Neggery - and the pests too!
Rushing down from the mountain top, Lacheeksie helped to lower the temperatures in the Neggery and polish the delicate Crystal Neggs. To avoid dropping the fragile fruit, she mastered her clumsiness by learning how to be more dexterous. At the end of a long day, Kari dropped by the igloo with a gift in thanks for Lacheeksie's help in keeping her valuable Ultimate Ice Neggs cool - a pet Slorg.
Lacheeksie raised her eyebrows. "A slorg?"
Kari nodded. "I had plenty to choose from, but this one seemed especially intelligent, persistent and affectionate, but not particularly agile." Kari paused and grinned. "Remind you of anyone? I figured you'd make a good team!"
Lacheeksie laughed and scooped the sticky, spotty beastie up. "A spotted slorg, huh? Then, I think I'll call it Splorgie", she exclaimed. "And its Rainblug will remind us that bad weather brings beautiful things!"
One day, a few months after losing their team mate, the team of Kacheeks finally charted the top of the mountain. They were amazed to see her still alive and with a whole new insight to the environment to boot! They were delighted with research available from Lacheeksie's new situation, and gave Taelia a Snowflake Pendant that they'd found deep in the caves. Said to be made from a magical snowflake that will never melt, it truly is the rarest essence of snow and, using the pendant, Taelia hit on something rather special in 2003: a safe way to recreate Lacheeksie's unique frozen look. With liberal doses of magical snow applied with a large brush, she turned around and began to paint Lacheeksie, yes paint her, into... snow! "Now your Neopet simply could not look any cooler... er, um, colder!"
They quickly developed a miniature variation and, on the 13 December, Taelia gave away thousands of Snow Petpet Paintbrushes on the Advent Calendar to celebrate the discovery. Everyone could share a little snowy magic and with a little help from Fyora and the new snowpets, they managed to find a way to reverse it, allowing Lacheeksie to finally be RETURNED TO YELLOW!
Nowadays, Lacheeksie lives with her lovely owner, eyewan2fly and the Advent Calendar has since become the central focal point for Happy Valley's existence. During the year, residents of Happy Valley can come and go, then come the month of Celebration, the Calendar is stocked as a perk to keep the residents and visitors in the Christmas mood all month long! Each day, more and more pets hear about this wonderous place and come to see the wintery wonderland for themselves, leaving with a memento of their chilly day out.
Come and see for yourself; you're guaranteed to grab something nice because every Neopian who treks up to Terror Mountain and opens the Advent Calendar door gets a lovely surprise! After all, everyone knows that:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the mountains glisten,
and Neopets listen,
To hear sleigh bells ringing in the snow.
Oh, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
So may your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmasses... be... white!
Happy 10th Anniversary, Advent Calendar!