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It's an early morning on Mystery Island where you are spending your vacation. You're strolling through the forested area close to the beach, exploring the Island.
You look up at the sky and notice big clouds gathering in front of the sun. You shiver as the first raindrop hits you. In no time the bright sunny morning has changed into a cold and rainy day. You quickly put you arms over you head and run for cover. You decide to head for a big oak tree, hoping its leaves will ward off the rain.
As you approach the tree, you notice light coming from the small holes in its stem and you discover a small door. You give a quick ruffle on it, hoping the inhabitant of the tree will be so kind to offer you a place to stay 'till the rain is over.
The door slightly opens and the friendly furry face of a young Striped Usul pops up from behind it.
-"Hi!", she says cheerfully. "What can I do for you?"
You ask her for shelter from the rain. She opens the door further and lets you in. You follow her up a small stairway to a petite room near the top of the tree.
The Usul offers you a seat on a snow beanbag and looks at you curiously.
-"What brings you to my humble little treehouse? You could have stayed in a proper Neohome if you had just walked further for a little."
She points out of the -blocked- You take a look and see a small Neohome through the trees.
-"That's my home", the Usul says. "I'm Tiwaz, by the way."
You shake hands with Tiwaz and reply to her, "I'm guest. Aren't you a little young to be living here on your own? Why aren't you living in that Neohome you just called home?"
Tiwaz smiles. "I am living in that Neohome. This treehouse is only my bedroom. I eat and play mostly in the Neohome with my sisters Star and Yokemi, my baby brother Dratho and my owner Jera. I sometimes go here during daytime to play alone or to enjoy the sound of the rain falling on the leaves of my treehouse. This is the most perfect place I've ever been. I'll never go looking again."
-"Looking for what?", you ask curiously.
Tiwaz smiles. "How silly of me. You don't know that of course. I'll tell you if you want me to. Do you have an hour or two?"
You look outside. The rain is still pouring down and it doesn't look like it is going to stop any time soon.
You nod and sit back down on the beanbag.
-"Ok, I'll tell you", Tiwaz says eagerly. "We'll have to go back to the very beginning: the moment I was born. I was wrapped in a light blanket. Two brown eyes looked at me tenderly. The voice that went with those eyes sung a sweet lullaby to me and her hands fed me with sweet and healthy milk. Miyandi the Desert Elephante took care of me, as I learned later on. I used to call her Ummi, meaning mum, and that was the first word I learned to say. My life as a baby was light, easy and loved.
I grew up to be a fast and mischievous little Usul. Ummi was a member of a group of Elephante nomads who travelled around the Lost Desert. I was accepted into that group by the grown ups, even though I was from another species. I never realized I didn't belong there when I was young; I didn't even notice I was different. There was no way for me to compare myself to the others: water was scarce and wasn't to be used as a mirror and real mirrors can't be found in the middle of the Desert. I was happy the way I was: a nomad Elephante.
But my peers did notice I wasn't like them. They made fun of me for not being able to fly and for not having a trunk. I didn't mind not flying: I could jump and climb way better than any of them. I made up for my lack of trunk by imitating the cries of the others and eventually I could toot even better than some of my peers. I was happy, but my peers weren't.
Instead of me becoming jealous of them, they became jealous of me! They wanted to climb too, they wanted to jump too! They wanted to have my furry collar and my loving mum. They wanted to be special, just like me. So they started to tease me more often. And when that didn't seem to be enough, they pulled my ears and cut off my fur collar.
I kept running back to Ummi, covered in tears, and she kept comforting me. But the others became meaner and meaner and they made my life a living hell. At one point I didn't even dare to leave the tent any more. When the group travelled on, I walked at the very end of the caravan, hiding myself behind heavily packed grown up group members and wandering off to avoid contact with my peers.
Ummi hated to see me suffer like that, but there wasn't much she could do. She had pushed the rules of the group by having me accepted, so she couldn't go around criticising the parents of the bullies. She did know something had to be done, so she decided to send me away.
Once a year the group stayed at Sakhmet City for a view days to buy tools and supplies. When we entered the City again, Ummi called for me. I entered our tent and sat down on the carpet in front of her.
Dear Tiwaz', she said as she petted my head and reached for something behind her with her other paw. 'There is something I have to show you.' She moved her paw forward and showed me what she'd been reaching for.
She was holding a Gold Mirror. 'Look in the Mirror, Tiwaz, and tell me what you see.'
I stared at the image the Mirror reflected. 'I... I don't know what I'm seeing', I mumbled. I looked at Ummi questionedly.
It's a Mirror, Tiwaz. What do you think you'd see when you look in it?'
I smiled. 'Myself of course. I know what a Mirror is, Ummi.' I looked into the Mirror again. 'But that's not me. I'm a Desert Elephante and that's not!'
Ummi smiled sadly. 'I'm sorry, Tiwaz, but that really is you. You're not a Desert Elephante: you're a Striped Usul. You don't belong here. I found you when you were still in your egg. I'm sure your parents are alive somewhere. You could go looking for them if you want to. Anyway, you should be living with your own species. You can't stay here, you're not happy here.' She sighed and handed me the Mirror. 'You must know it truly hurts to have to make you leave. Please take this Mirror with you as a reminder of me and as a sign of your uniqueness.'
She got up and pushed me towards the exit of the tent.
You must go now. I suggest you go north-east from here, to the Haunted Woods. It is said that there's a talking mountain there, called the Esophagor, which answers your questions if you feed him the food he wants.' She wiped a tear from her eye. 'Leave now. Walk away and don't look back. You can come visit me when you've found your home, not sooner. Just don't forget your roots, my little nomad.'
She gave me one last hug and pushed me out the tent. Then she turned around and walked back in.
I wanted to turn around and comfort her, because I could hear her crying, but she noticed my hesitation somehow and spoke to me.
'No, Tiwaz! Don't hesitate now! Walk away, or you'll only make it harder for the both of us!'
I now understand what she was saying. She wanted to keep me, but knew she couldn't, so she was devastated.
Back then I felt left alone, but not betrayed, because I could understand her reasons now I had found out I wasn't like her, but still disliked her for sending me away like that. I put the Mirror away in my knapsack and covered it with my robe. I looked at the tent one last time, hoping Ummi would change her mind.
She didn't, she couldn't.
So I started walking, away from what had always been my home, my paws dragging, my head down.
I avoided the glance of the other Elephantes and walked deeper into the City.
I wasn't used to being on my own, especially not in a big City like Sakhmet. The others on the market seemed very hostile to me. They came towards me, showing me their goods and praising me to lure me into buying something from them. I fled.
I ran away from the merchants and the market, past the Royal Palace ... and froze. On the balcony of the Palace I saw a royal looking creature with a fur collar and long ears, just like me. I blindly swung my paw to the right and grabbed the nearest pedestrian.
this creature?!' I let go of the pedestrian and pointed towards the figure on the balcony.
That's Princess Vyssa, an Usul like yourself.' The pedestrian, a yellow Lupe in worn down clothes, tried to walk away, but I grabbed him again.
Could... could I be related
to this Princess?'
The Lupe grinned and hit me friendly on the back. 'Yeah, right, and I am the King of Maraqua!' He laughed and walked away.
I wanted to follow him to ask him some more questions, but I realized it was no use. There were probably over a million different Usuls in this world and chances were small that I was related to the first I ever saw.
I walked on, left the City. I knew the next part of my journey would be tough. Travelling through the Desert with a group was pretty easy and safe, but alone... I knew that if anything would happen to me out there, no one would be able to help me. I straightened my back and raised my chin. If I wanted to reach the Haunted Woods, I'd better get a hold of myself and start acting my age instead of acting like a baby.
My days alone in the Desert were hot and heavy, my nights cold and lonely. Luckily Ummi had taught me how to survive without bringing any food or water. Despite the boredom that struck me, I was fine. I had stopped counting the days, because it was no use. I wouldn't return to Sakhmet anytime soon and I had no idea how far it was to the Haunted Woods. I just kept a close eye on the sun and my surroundings, to make sure I was going in the right direction. After a while rocks could be seen in the sand. After another while I found some small trees with black stems and leaves and finally I found myself in a pitch-black forest.
I had reached the Haunted Woods.
I was curious of my new surroundings, but there was something in the air I couldn't explain. A strange presence made me feel uncomfortable, so I kept quiet and stayed out of sight. I went looking for the talking mountain, sneaking around the nearly dead bushes, watching my every step. Suddenly the ground trembled and I was thrown against a tree. From the flat and solid ground a gigantic mountain rose. It had mean looking eyes and a huge hole for a mouth and it looked at me.
II AMMM HUNGGRRYYY..... feeed mmeee annndd I wwilll reeewwaardd yoouu....', it groaned. It's loud voice made my robes flutter and my ears hurt.
I got on my feet and looked at him, slightly shivering. 'I... I'll feed you. What would you like to eat?', I muttered.
The mountain smiled as wide as the hole let him. 'Aaaren't yoou a fuuuurry liiittle creatuuuure? Yoou seeeeem a loooot more appetiiiising than the ooones that normaaally feeed mmeee.' He laughed loudly.
I became pale and had to grab a branch to prevent myself from falling down.
Juuust kiiiddiiing scaaaaredy cat', he said. 'Thhhaannkk yoou foorr heellppinggg. I neeedd a Pumpkin Ice Cream. Please hurry!' The mountain disappeared again.
I let go of the branch I was holding and ran.
I ran and ran until the last black tree of the forest had left my sight.
I stood in a peaceful green meadow, alone. Far in the distance the vague skyline of a city could be seen. I just stood there, catching my breath. I was hungry and thirsty, 'cause I had entered a setting in which I didn't know how to find food. I was too careful to just taste the plants or berries around me.
I recovered from my run and headed for the city in the distance. Now I knew what food I had to find for the talking mountain, I figured I'd best go looking for it in a city or another place where many Neopets gather.
After a tiring but otherwise pleasant walk I reached the city. Next to the road leading into the city, a sign was standing, saying 'Welcome at Neopia Central, population...' and then such a long number that I can't pronounce it. The number scared me, but not only the number: I could see somewhat into the city and everywhere I looked, there were Neopets and people, loads of them.
I shrugged and tried to convince myself that I would find exactly what I was looking for in this city and that there was nothing to be afraid of. I walked in.
There most have been Usuls in the city, but I seemed to look right through them. I didn't know where to look. There were shops everywhere, Neopets everywhere, people everywhere. My eyes only confused me, so I followed my nose. A warm and satisfying smell led me to the outer rim of the city: an area with many small shops. It was less crowded and intimidating there, so I calmed down a little. I was lured into a small house shaped as a cauldron.
Inside there were multiple big cauldrons filled with bubbling hot soup dangling over huge fires. A brown-haired Faerie approached me. 'You look hungry', she stated from the look on my face. 'Would you like some soup?'
I felt embarrassed. I was hungry, but I had nothing to pay the Faerie with. But how do you tell that to someone without loosing your dignity? 'How much is it?' I asked carefully.
The Faerie looked confused. 'Haven't you heard of me? I'm the Soup Faerie. I give out free soup to the poor and helpless. You don't have to pay me.'
She grabbed a bowl, filled it with soup and gave it to me. 'Here, now eat.'
I gulped down the soup and thanked the Faerie. Then I asked if she knew where I could buy some ice cream in this city.
The Soup Faerie thought for a second. 'I don't know of any ice cream shops here, but Taelia told me about one in Happy Valley. Go north-east from here until you find a little village at the foot of a mountain called Terror Mountain.'
I thanked the Faerie and left her house.
On my way out of Neopia Central I passed a sad looking house. I saw Neopets being dragged in by people and happy looking Neopets coming out with people. I looked at the sign on the house. It said 'Pound. We take care of lonely and abandoned Neopets and find them a new owner'.
As I stood there, a mean looking Techo grabbed my paw. 'Don't you want to come in? We have a free room that would fit you perfectly.'
I shook my head and pulled my paw from his fingers. 'What's an owner?', I asked.
That's a person who takes care of a Neopet and loves it like it was his or her child. At least, that's what they're supposed to do. Some owners pick up Neopets that look pretty, feed them for a while and then dump them here.'
I was shocked. I didn't know people did that. I quickly left the scene. I left Neopia Central after I sold my robe in some small shop.
I needed the Neopoints to buy the ice cream with.
My journey to Happy Valley was fast and easy. I enjoyed my new peaceful surroundings and took my time to look around before visiting the ice cream cart. Despite the snow, I wasn't very cold. My fur kept me warm. As I looked at my furry paws, the idea came to mind that this might be the area Usuls originally came from.
I went to the ice cream cart and asked the Lutari for a Pumpkin Ice Cream.
He shook his head. 'Sorry! You don't have any Ice Cream Coupons so you won't be able to get any ice cream.'
At first I just stood there, mouth fallen open. Then the meaning of this event hit me. My ears started hanging, my shoulders lowered and I lost all hope. I would never be able to return to the Haunted Woods without the ice cream: I was certain the Esophagor would kill me if I returned without it! And there was no way I could think of to go to the Lost Desert without going through the Haunted Woods, so I would never see Ummi again!
There was only one thing left for me to do: travel all over Neopia to find a place where Usuls live and settling down there. If Terror Mountain was the place Usuls originally came from, it was Terror Mountain I had to climb.
I turned around and started to climb to the top. As the name of the mountain indicates, it was a terrible journey. I was scared and hungry and my fur wasn't thick enough to keep me warm. At night I dug a burrow in the snow and slept in it. I started to go slower and slower. I had very little energy left. I dug another hole and fell asleep.
I didn't wake up the next morning...
I woke up days later in a warm bed. A worried-looking Faerie was using her magic on me. I tried to get up, but the Faerie rushed towards me and pushed me back into the bed. 'Not yet! Let the magic take effect. What on Neopia were you doing outside in the snow without a coat?!'
I blushed. 'Don't Usuls originally come from here? I thought my fur would keep me warm.'
The Faerie shook her head. 'Don't be silly. You're the first Usul to come here since Hannah's last visit. Who told you that?'
I looked down. 'No one told me, I figured it out myself.' I looked up again. 'Where does this Hannah come from?'
The Faerie smiled. 'I don't know. Hannah is an adventurer: she lives anywhere and everywhere. But don't you follow her! You're way too weak to do that! Just stay here with hospitable Taelia and you'll be fine. But if you really want to see other Usuls, you should visit Mystery Island or another warm place.'
I sat up. 'You're Taelia?! I've heard of you. The Soup Faerie told me about you.'
Taelia nodded. 'Oh yes, that's me.
The Soup Faerie is a friend of mine.
I stayed at Taelia's for a while and she nursed me back to health. When I wanted to travel again, she gave me one of her coats and asked me to come back when I had found a home. I thanked her for saving my life and left. I took her advice and went to Mystery Island, but even on Mystery Island I didn't find any Usuls. I guess I just searched like an Elephante and not like the Usul I am. I did
find a colony of Ogrin deeply hidden in the forest. I was sick and tired of searching and I liked the climate and the Ogrins, so I decided to stay with them. I build myself this treehouse and lived here happily, until the arrival of the builders.
I had noticed how close to my new home trees were being taken down and a new Neohome was being build. I looked at the inhabitant agitatedly. It was a blonde-haired girl. She hardly ever left her house and she never knew I was practically living in her backyard. Or so I thought. Time went by and a Starry Acara came to live with her. Then someday a Baby Bori appeared at their home. And then the winter came...
It was the worst winter in ages. There was hardly any food for the Ogrins and me. We all became weak. Then the Ogrins decided to show themselves to the rest of Neopia. I didn't want to join them. I didn't want to leave my home. So they left and I was alone, hungrier than ever. I had to get food somehow. My only option was to go to that Neohome and beg for food. The hunger had digested my pride, so I did it.
I went to the Neohome and knocked on the door. The Baby Bori opened the door. 'Mum, there's a Striped Usul here to see you!'
I almost backed away, but then the girl came to the door. 'Hello. You're that Usul from the treehouse, right?'
I was astonished she knew about my existence.
The girl continued. 'I wondered when you would come to pay your neighbours a visit. I'm Jera, this-', she pointed at the Baby Bori, '-is Dratho and this-', she pointed at the Starry Acara behind her, '-is Star. Would you like something to eat?'
I just nodded and followed them in. I had a decent meal and went back to my tree house. The next day the whole family came to visit me in my tree house. They brought cakes and cookies. Rising Star gave me some books to read and Dratho let me play with his Poppit.
I had a great day, the best since I had left Ummi.
As time went by I spend more and more time at their place and eventually I started to tell others I lived there. Our family became even bigger when Yokemi the Royal Peophin came to live with us.
So now I live with them. They have taken me back to Ummi, without going through the Haunted Woods. I never want to set foot there again. Of course Ummi was very happy hearing from me and seeing me again. I now visit her once every month.
I've also been back to Taelia's to tell her I was fine and to bring back her coat. She told me to keep her coat. I'm a big Taelia fan now and I'm collecting everything with her image on it and everything in her colours."
Tiwaz gets up and shows you her Taelia cabinet. You see a Handmade Taelia Plushie, a Taelia Ball, a Snow Faerie Snowglobe, a Snowflake Blower, Taelia's Coat and... a sleeping Plushie Angelpuss.
-"That's all I have now, but I'm saving up to buy some more." Tiwaz opens the cabinet and takes the Angelpuss out. "This is my Petpet Ayatori. Jera gave her to me. She likes to sit in the cabinet close to the coat. Isn't she a doll... literally!"
You nod and smile as you sit back down. Then you hear a knock on the door and a blonde-haired girl stumbles up the stairs, carrying a Baby Bori in her arms. Her hair is wet because of the rain.
-"Tiwaz", she says, "you promised to baby-sit Dratho today. I have to go shopping". She puts the Bori down on the floor and notices you. "Hello, I'm Jera. You must be a friend of Tiwaz'".
You shake hands with her and reply "I'm guest".
Jera nods. "Pleased to meet you." She turns to Tiwaz. "I have to go now. Star is in her bookshop and Yokemi is in her room. I suggest you don't bother her: she's her annoying self again."
Jera looks outside. "Ah, the rain has stopped." She walks to the stairs. "Bye, Tiwaz, guest."
You get up too. "I have to get going too. Thank you for the shelter and the lovely story. Maybe I'll see you again someday."
Tiwaz nods, smiles and accompanies you to the door. "Bye, guest!"
As you walk back to the hotel, you go through Tiwaz' story one more time. It might not be as impressive as a war or a deadly adventure, but it has shaped the life and the personality of a young Usul. It has strengthened her and has taught her that there are good things and bad things in life. You tell yourself to remember her story and to visit her again sometime, to see how this young Usul grows up.
These are the awards I've won for this site. Thanks to everyone who made the awards and looked at my page.
Congrats! You've won Alexis' Gold Award!
On April the 22nd 2010 I won the sitespotlight with this petpage. This is my second award, the first being for my Acara's
petpage. I'm very happy with the award and very proud, but also a bit confused. The last time I submitted this petpage for the spotlight was four years before I won it! Anyway, I still won and that makes me very happy!
Some formal things
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I tried to contact everyone involved with my stories about my site, but it wasn't always possible. If you are involved, but not contacted, please neomail me.