A/N: This is probably going to be the longest chapter yet. To make up for the extremely long wait for an update, I decided to write the next chapter immediately. OK, now for the replies. Thanks to everyone for reviewing and making this my most popular (or at least most reviewed) story of all!
Fororensu-Chan - Nope, sorry, I'm not dead yet. ;) As you asked, here's the next chapter! Thanks for all the reviews.
Kitsune Demon Girl - Yeah, they're pretty cute. You're about to meet another equally cute animal but not quite as energetic.
I was about to reply when Ginger interrupted, "Can't we pick up Nip first?" She put on her little-princess-pout and looked up at Yip.
I tried to say, Nip?, but once again, one of the young animals beat me to it. "Nip's my brother," explained Yip. "And I guess you're right, he is my brother... okay, fine. We go get Nip, and then we take Kay on a tour!"
So I found myself jogging to keep up with the two as we crashed through the forest, ending up going the way I had come. We burst out of the trees and without hesitation, Yip started across the bridge to the island with Ginger at his heels. I paused, the memory of Goldie on the island flashing through my mind. We couldn't run in on her, looking like that! "Wait!" I called, stopping just one step before I was on the bridge. "We can't go there!"
"Yes we can," Yip argued, rather arrogantly. "Everyone in Crystalia is allowed there. We play there all the time." I bit my lip and tried to think up a reply, but the two turned and dashed onto the island, soon out of sight behind the swaying palm trees. I sighed and ran after them, hoping I could catch up and stop them in time. The broad green leaves of exotic-looking plants whipped against my legs and the trees and undergrowth started thickening. I knew we were nearing the clearing where Goldie had been, and heard laughter up ahead.
Just then, I burst into the clearing, but Goldie was gone. The soft footsteps in the sand that showed she had been there were trampled over with the double prints of Ginger and Yip. My heart pounding, I did the only thing I could do; set off at top speed toward the two young animals.
Before I knew it, I was hurtling onto the beach on the opposite side of the island, and I propelled myself over the bridge to the other side of Crystalia. There, Ginger and Yip were panting as they leaned against a budding pear tree, and I did the same, trying to take deep breaths. "Guys! Why'd you leave me so far behind?" I asked as I caught my breath.
"We didn't really mean to..." Ginger said, looking up at me with large, adorable eyes. I couldn't help but smile.
"So, are we going to pick up, er, Nip?" I continued. I noticed a smattering of small pale yellow pinpricks across his muzzle, which I hadn't seen before - I guess I wasn't examining him too closely, because they were so small they were a bit hard to see. But once you noticed them, it lended more to his appearance of resembling the night sky.
"Yeah, our house is right up there," Yip replied, gesturing northward with a pitch-black paw. I caught sight of two small homes up the way and sparsely scattered pear trees. It was rather strange that suddenly the trees switched from apple trees to pear trees. Maybe someone did that on purpose, cultivating an orchard of foreign fruit, like AC game players often did. "So let's get going."
The two young animals bounced to their feet, and I stopped leaning against the pear tree, following them as we trekked over the uphill slope. Once the ground leveled out, I saw a small pond several yards behind the pair of houses. More trees grew around it, larger and thriving. A shack was placed right next to the pond. I didn't have much time to think on it, though, because Yip grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the nearest house. It had several rooms, which I was beginning to accept since it was a lot more realistic than the one-room dwellings of the DS games. However, it was still very small, nowhere near the size of an average house in the real world - or rather, the Other Side.
It was white in color with navy trimming, with a small, neat garden behind a small white-picket fence. It was directly below a window, which was about half-open, presumably to let in the fresh spring air. Yip skipped right up the doorstep and twisted the doorknob, walking right into the unlocked house. "Hey DA-AD!" he called loudly. "Can Nip come out to play with us? We're exploring!" I could see right into the small living room which consisted of a couch, TV, and a desk with a computer on it. I could see a few doorways leading into other areas of the home.
Lucky's head appeared out of one of the doorways, and I couldn't stifle a small gasp. Lucky looked just like the one from the game! His head was heavily bandaged, with one yellow eye glowing out at you from a small patch of exposed pitch-black fur. A pair of floppy, velvety black ears poked out from the mass of bandages. "Sure, I'll ask him." I heard footsteps, a door opening and Lucky's voice asking, "C'mon, it's a beautiful day. Go play with your brother."
"OK," an indifferent voice sighed, not exactly excited but not exactly disappointed, either. Seconds later another puppy appeared. This one was kind of a smoky gray color with a pale yellow paw, well, the Animal Crossing equivalent of a hand. He had one smoky gray ear and one sky blue ear. His amber eyes strayed to the small group assembled at the doorway. "Who's your friend, Yip?"
"I'm Kay," I declared. "I'm pretty new around here, so Yip's giving me a tour."
"Yeah, well, I'm glad you decided not to leave me out," Nip said, hurrying over to us. "I know Crystalia as well as Yip does!"
With that, we were off. First the young animals showed me the other house on the other side of the river; it was Kitt's, as I had suspected. Next they led me to the pond. "Nip and I love fishing here," Yip explained enthusiastically, nudging his brother. "Right, Nip?"
Nip nodded and gestured to the shack, which upon further inspection said "Gloria's Bait Shop" in big letters across the top. Various types of bait, lures, bobbers, and rods covered the walls and shelves of the small store. "We always buy bait from here. Gloria is a bird, but she's not here right now. She's probably off in some nearby town, buying new items to restock her store."
"Yeah, but she trusts us, so she lets us take things from her store as long as we right her a note and put the money right in the cash register," Yip yapped. That struck me as very strange. I guess the Animal Crossing world has different standards than mine. If Gloria has known them for a long time, then... I guess they would trust each other. They also pointed out a house farther up the strip of land that I'd never noticed before, which belonged to Gloria herself.
After that, we proceeded to travel down the slope again. There wasn't much else to see, so we crossed the island and stepped onto the main side of town. "Ooh, Yip! Can we do the tailor's next?" Ginger suggested, putting on her puppy eyes - which was rather funny, because she was using them on an actual puppy.
Yip considered. "Well, we'll get there eventually. Let's go along the beach first and then head up toward the town square, okay?"
"Okay!" Ginger agreed happily, falling back to skip along by my side. As we walked along the beach, my two small tour guides explained the two-room house I'd seen earlier belonged to Bob. I remembered the rather dim-seeming purple cat I'd met on the way to the town hall earlier. I blinked back tears at the memory of what had happened at the town hall, continuing along the beach. "Sometimes bottled notes wash up," Ginger whispered to me as we walked. We saw a couple other houses along the beach. One belonged to a tiger named Pine, and the larger house was owned by Goldie. I wondered why her house was so big, considering I hadn't met any of her family members.
"Goldie's house is so big," Yip said. "She used to live there with her mom and dad and brothers - ow! What was that for, Nip?" This sparked my interest. I hoped Yip would tell me more about the mysterious golden retriever.
"We're supposed to be giving her a tour, not telling her everyone's life stories," Nip scolded, as if he were Yip's mother or something.
"Yeah, but I already started, so I might as well finish the story," Yip snapped back. Nip rolled his eyes but said nothing, allowing his brother to continue. "They were all captured by the Shade. Goldie's really quiet now."
"You mean she wasn't always?" I asked, trying to gather up my courage to ask him about the Shade. He probably wouldn't tell me. No one seemed to be very eager to tell me anything.
"Well, I mean more than before," admitted Yip.
We were about to move on. It's worth a try. I blurted it out, "Who's the Shade?"
"You know, the bad guys. They're always attacking villages and stuff. Good thing we have the Rangers to protect us. I wanna be a Ranger when I grow up!" Yip said enthusiastically. "Now let's get going! We have a lot more places to visit!"
I followed them along the shoreline, thinking about what he'd said. I knew there was more to the Shade than being "the bad guys". That I had already known. But, he'd said the Shade would attack villages. That was a new bit of information. And they'd stolen Goldie's whole family! I hoped I wouldn't have another run-in with them. My expression darkened as I remembered how I'd been told they were the ones who kidnapped me in the first place.
I was falling behind, so I had to jog to keep up. We turned north and continued through the forest. We saw one more house on the way there, which I was told belonged to the pelican sisters Rose and Taylor. "Rose wouldn't be there today. She takes the day shift at the town hall. Taylor might be there, but she'll probably be sleeping." It was Ginger who informed me, for a change. She kept re-arranging the rose in her fur, which was threatening to slip out and fall on the ground.
Then we made it to the Crystalia Town Square. Several businesses were arranged around the cobblestone town square. In the middle of it a large fountain was placed, spewing clear water into the air, which soon was re-used by the fountain again. A few animals were walking around, some carrying shopping bags and some heading into the stores. I spotted a dark, red-brown tiger with pitch black stripes walking into a shop that proudly declared it was called "Nookway". That's the shop I have in my DS game! I realized. And that must be Pine. Sitting on a bench by the fountain was that cat with the red stripes on his white fur, who'd told me which way to go to the town hall.
"That's Kabuki on the bench," Yip told me. "He's kind of mean-spirited. He has his own house in the woods near the river." Mean-spirited? He seemed pretty nice to me. "Let's go into the shops!"
"Crystalia Tailors' first!" Ginger insisted. The black puppy could do nothing but nod. Nip said nothing, just smiled and followed the rest of us quietly toward the shop. As we stepped in, Yip loudly declared we were on a tour of Crystalia, causing me to blush. Once inside, two hedgehogs immediately ran up to us. My eyes wandered over the store, taking in the racks of accessories and the mannequins displaying the newest fashionable outfits, the hampers filled with bolts of cloth and other supplies and the two desks with the cash register and the sewing machine on them.
"And who could this be?" asked the male hedgehog, a twinkle in his eye.
"I'm Kay," I told him, my eyes finally done roving and locking on the two prickly animals.
"I'm Thorn," he declared. He gestured to the other one. "And this is my sister, Skye."
"What can we do for you?" asked Skye. "We just got in a new outfit from Forest Springs."
Ginger took a step forward, her eyes sparkling. "From Forest Springs? I love their fashion sense! Where is it?" Soon Skye and Ginger were yakking like crazy, and Ginger was pulling a bag of Bells from her pocket, and Thorn just rolled his eyes with this amused look on his face. "I just got my allowance!" Ginger squealed. "Ooh, this shirt looks nice. Or maybe I should buy this cute sunhat."
Nip had on a similar expression to Thorn, while Yip just boggled. Thorn sidled over to us, whispering, "I think she's going to be a while. How about you continue your tour elsewhere and come back for her in an hour or two?" Yip gladly agreed, and we made our escapade from the tailors'.
Our next stop was Nookway. I met a teenaged raccoon named Jim Nook, who explained that his dad had thought it would be good practice if he ran a shop in a small town for a while. Jim had pretty much everything in his store: from furniture to toys to food to anything you could think of.
My feet started to hurt about then. Yip had us trekking all over Crystalia, to the museum where we were greeted by an owl named Cricket, to the wishing well at the other end. He didn't seem to have any sort of pattern to it. We also wound around to the dump and the main gate. The Porter wanna-be turned out to be called Bananas. It was a fitting name. After that we galloped off to the park where I had first met Kabuki, and the playground where I first set eyes on Yip and Ginger. It didn't help that we had to track down every single animal's house. I pretty much had met everyone already - or at least set eyes on them - except for this family of frogs. There was the mother, Reed, the father, Drift, their eleven-or-so daughter, Lily, and a tadpole-thingy that seemed to be about the equivalent of a two-year-old, named Wave. There was even a restaurant called Starsight - The Family Restaurant, run by a mole named Joe. It was really neat and retro-looking. Yip bought us all Kids' Meals for dinner, and I ate fish sticks with chips. Nip and Yip both ordered hamburgers - well, Nip ordered a cheeseburger, but it's practically the same thing.
We stayed out until well after dark, and then looped back to pick up Ginger, who was beaming and hoisted several bulging shopping bags. We finally parted ways, and I returned to my house, where I realized I had no toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, or anything, and no Bells to buy any of those things. So I went to bed with dirty teeth.
My favorite place had been the wishing well. It was surrounded by a circle of cobblestone and several benches. Water spurted up into the air, flinging delicate drops into oblivion. At the bottom, countless Bells gleamed. Yip had explained that it was one of the most popular places to hang out. It was the spot where the most holidays and festivals were held, after the Town Square, of course. As we left, I caught sight of Goldie, walking up to the wishing well and flipping one small Bell into it. I was exhausted tonight as I was lying in my bed. It wasn't long before sleep arrived to bring twisted dreams of the day into my mind.
A/N: Yeah, I got lazy at the end, but... it would get boring really fast if I wrote every second of their exploration in detail... You'll get to see what the museum and diner actually look like in another chapter or so here. Sorry, but it was getting really long and boring to write, and it's no use writing something that doesn't interest you.