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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Collecting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 124 > Short Stories > Algid

Algid

by christinetran

Deep within the cold caves of Terror Mountain, two Neopets approached an opening in the wall. The opening looked like it was naturally made, but the sides were absolutely smooth and perfect, which gave off the hint that it might've been tampered with by some Neopian of the past. By its sides, large drifts of packed snow towered like, well, towers, hiding the opening from the view of the other Ice Cave dwellers. As the two Neopians passed by the opening and into the cave within, their eyes fell on a long, icy, monstrous beast that lay on the ground; the Snowager. But instead of running from this terrible sight, the two Neopets smiled at him.

     Ages ago, way before the time of many things that we know now, the Snowager wasn't the terror that it is today. Before, the Snowager was friendly with all Neopians, from the ignored Lenny's to the overpopulated Shoyru's. Instead of guarding his treasure and keeping it to himself, he offered it freely to all that happened to stumble within his lair. That was how the Snowager was like in the past. He was caring, kind, and generous, the complete opposite of what he is today.

     Even though the Snowager was known world-wide as a wonderful addition to Neopia, and all who knew or heard of the Snowager loved the icy beast down to each and every ice chip in his body, there was still a problem that lurked within his mind. Every day, Neopians would gather by hundreds into his enormous ice cavern, asking for treasures of great worth. In return for these many treasures, the Neopians stayed and kept the Snowager company. That was his problem; he absolutely despised being alone. Solitude was his fear, his phobia, and any type of company beside his reflection in the icy walls was a blessing to him.

     Because of this phobia, the Snowager hated the nights of Neopia. For it was during this time that the Neopians who visit him in his cave leave him alone. He knew that they couldn't stay forever, and that all Neopians who enter his cave must eventually leave. But he hated that fact, and he tried his best to persuade them to stay; and like the many times before, they would say no and state that they couldn't stay with the Snowager any longer. Most Neopians are able to bear the cold of the cavern for a certain amount of time until they have to leave. If they don't, they will eventually freeze, turning themselves into a block of ice, and leaving the Snowager alone once again.

     Finally, after quite a bit of time that was accompanied by loneliness, the Snowager decided to construct himself his very own companion. His companion had to be able to survive the coldness of his cavern, yet be friendly and loyal, someone who would stay with him no matter what happened. He created his companion out of the icy rocks that fell into his cave from time to time, and shaped him into his likeness. The Snowager used the tools located in his treasure hoard to smooth out the rough parts of his creation. He carved in a pair of perfect aqua eyes, adding a slight bump above it to make it more interesting. He hammered out the mouth and created the perfectly smooth stripes that wound around the body. The last thing that he added to his new mini-twin were two pairs of legs, so that they would at least have a slight difference in form.

     After he finished his wonderful creation, the Snowager lowered his massive head towards the place where the heart of his companion should be, and he breathed out a cold mist. Although the mist he breathed looked ordinary, it contained some articles that other mists didn't have. This mist contained intelligence and the ability to feel, it contained loyalty to the Snowager and the flexibility to move, it contained all the things that are necessary for any living thing. But most importantly, within this little being was the Snowager's only true friend, an icy brethren that will stay with him no matter what.

     The moment the icy mist touched it's surface, it acted like a sponge and absorbed until no evidence of the mist existed. The tiny creature's eyes turned warm, and it's beak-ish mouth opened slightly. The creature's eyes swiveled upward and stared at the Snowager, a tiny smile grew onto it's face. With a warm heart and a loving look, the Snowager named this new critter Snowickle.

     The day after the Snowickle was created, a large group of Neopians once again entered the Snowager's cave, eagerly looking forward to collecting a new extravagant item. Besides sighting the usual image of the icy beast wrapped around his treasure hoard, this time, laying daintily atop the treasure trove, was a smaller version of the Snowager with legs.

     It wasn't long before all of Neopia heard of this new individual that resided in the Snowager's Cavern. Thousands more Neopians flocked over to the Ice Caves to receive even a tiny glimpse of this 'Snowickle'. Everyone fell in love with this adorable new being, and many asked the Snowager if there were any more. Many were disappointed when they realized that the Snowickle was one of a kind, for they all wanted one as a companion as well. Some of them even offered the Snowager millions of Neopoints just for ownership of the creature, but the Snowager continuously turned them down. It soon became obvious that no amount of items or NP was going to convince the Snowager to sell the Snowickle, and eventually the crowd around the Ice Caves decreased until only one Neopet was left, a Shoyru.

     The Shoyru's name was Artonic, but he preferred being called Tonic. He was one of those Neopians who entered the Snowager's cave early in the morn, claimed a prize, and left as soon as possible. Because of this, the Snowager didn't know Tonic as well as the others, which is either bad or good depending on the situation. In this situation, it was bad, for the Snowager did not know what Tonic's thoughts were. He didn't even have a shadow of a hint of what Tonic was thinking. The only thought that ran in his mind was that Tonic stayed just so that he could be another companion of the Snowager and his new Snowickle.

     For many days, Tonic was the first Neopian to enter the cavern, and the last to leave. He even chose all the cheap treasures instead of the expensive ones, the ones that he usually chose in the past. During the hours he visited the Snowager and his new pet, Tonic played games with them, but no words were exchanged, since everyone thought that the Snowager couldn't talk. The Snowickle was able to let out a few distinct sounds, but that was all he was capable of doing. Eventually, the Snowager came to trust Tonic, and considered him as a trustworthy person. No one warned the Snowager of Tonic's past and reputation, for they never thought that Tonic had a shadowy thought of doing something wrong and angering the peaceful Ice Cavern Beast. For many days, life remained like this. Tonic would came, claim his prize, stay with the two ice creatures until late into the night, and then he'll leave, returning once again the next morning. It was a normal ritual that the Snowager eventually got use to, considering it a part of his normal day.

     The sun was about to set beyond the horizon, and drafts of cool wind blew by the entrance of the cave's facade. Nearly all of the Neopians had left his cavern for the day. Only a few stragglers remained behind, battling it out in a game of Cheat. Tonic was sitting in the corner, quietly reading a book. His eyes occasionally lit over the the book top, staring at the Cheat game as if he was interested in it. But his eyes always shifted back towards the book after some time.

     Nearby, the Snowager wasn't that interested in the Cheat game, for he was too busy arranging his pile of treasures into sections. One part was dedicated to items under 10,000 NP, the other section is dedicated to items that cost 10,001-20,000 NP, and so on and so on. His Snowickle was busy practicing his jumps, leaping from one boombox to the other. An occasional laugh of delight flew from the Snowickle's mouth every time he missed his landing spot and fell on the soft ground.

     Occasional grumbles and laughter echoed off the cave's entrance, mostly from the Buzz who was going against his Lupe opponent. Finally, after quite a bit of card shuffles and unpleasant snarling, something slammed against the table and a deep groan echoed around the cave. The Snowager's head snapped around quickly to stare at the origin of the intruding noise. His eyes set upon a Buzz wearing an apologetic expression.

     "Snowager," the buzz (who was playing Cheat) said, disturbing the cold silence once again. "I just lost against him," he stared disgustingly at his opponent, who was ecstatically emptying the Cheat cards into a container. "So I got to get going. Sorry for the annoying sounds I made. Well, bye!"

     The red buzz released his transparent wings, flexing them to warm them up, and shot off towards the distance in a few seconds. The other pet, a rather prideful blue Lupe, trotted off confidently towards the exit of the cave, flicking his tail in goodbye. The Snowager simply smiled after them, then resumed his task of organizing his prized treasures. Considering the fact that the Snowager has enough items to give to almost every single Neopian in Neopia, it took quite some time for everything to be organized. The Snowickle was still playfully leaping from one boombox to another. Tonic continued his reading by the corner.

     After the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, the Snowager finally gave up on sorting everything. On one side of the cave lay his carefully arranged treasures, and the other side contained glimpses of blue, green, red, and many other colored items, piled on top of each other. After staring at those two piles with a artistic eye, the Snowager abandoned it and started to approach Tonic slowly, tilting his head in question after he stopped in front of the book-reading Shoyru. The Snowickle hopped lightly onto the Snowager's head, and settled himself into the cold nest.

     Tonic pretended not to notice the Snowager until a few minutes had passed. He casually glanced up and acted surprise to see the Snowager in front of him.

     "Now when did you sneak up on me like that?" Tonic exclaimed, clutching his heart in shock. The Snowager just simply smiled at the astounded Shoyru.

     "You shouldn't do that, you know, 'Ager? It scares the bum off of 'em," Tonic said, this time more good naturally than before, grinning mischievously while doing so.

     The Snowager smiled back at Tonic once again, but his eyes still held a questioning look in them.

     "Oh, big guy, I bet you wanna know when I'm going to fly off, eh?" Tonic asked.

     The Snowager's eyes glinted, but his expression stayed the same. It was as if he was frozen to the spot... well, more frozen than he currently is.

     "Well, this book, I just can't put it down! Did you ever read one of these stories? It's like this hook that keeps on pulling you deeper and deeper into the plot!" Tonic said excitedly, his eyes just brimming with delight. "And I know that I can probably take this home... but... well, ya see, 'Ager. I can't read as well in other places than in here, ya know what I mean?"

     A twitch flew throughout the Snowager's body, and his face changed it's look. This time, a puzzled look was dancing in his eyes, reflecting off the lights from the walls. The Snowickle, atop the Snowager's head, moved around a bit, but settled himself down once again.

     "Well, I was hoping I could stay longer... just until I finish the book," Tonic said, shifting his weight and looking pleadingly up at the Snowager.

     Fear shot itself into the ice beast's head. Even though he enjoyed company, for he completely believed in 'the more the merrier' quote, he felt strangely insecure about this. Ever since he received his Snowickle's companionship, he's been very particular about how long a person may stay in his cavern. But his heart melted at the look on Tonic's face, and because he knew that Tonic was trustworthy, the Snowager simply nodded.

     "Thanks 'Ager! You're the best!" Tonic chirped back, a grin plastered on his face. After he said that, his smile ran away from him, and he fell against the wall of the cave and resumed his addiction to the book.

     The Snowager, however, slithered slowly away from Tonic, trying to make as less movements as possible so he wouldn't disturb his Snowickle's slumber. Sliding over to the corner of the cave, beside the pile of unsorted treasures, he wrapped himself into a ball and drifted off to sleep. His last memory was of seeing his Snowickle's dangling tail fall against his eyelid.

********************

His eyes flew open, and his head popped up. The Snowager stared around the cave. Outside, soft winds blew the feathery flakes, but his snow towers guarded his cavern from becoming any chillier. He stared around suspiciously. He didn't know why, but he felt that something was wrong. He slithered out from behind the pile of costly articles, and took a quick glance over at where Tonic once sat. The place sat empty, holding no hint that a Shoyru lay there. His eyes furrowed in puzzlement as he glanced at the reflective walls, staring out into the winter coldness. Suddenly, his eyes flew back onto the ice mirror. His Snowickle wasn't on his head! Instead, two Neggs wrapped in a scarf rested upon his crown. With a ferocious roar, the Snowager slithered out of his cave and down towards Happy Valley, a rush of ice and snow rained on the Ice Cave dwellings that were standing nearby.

     The Snowager raised his head up once again the moment he reached Happy Valley, spraying large daggers of ice upon the tops of the houses. His eyes were blazing with cold fire, and he swept down the mountainside in a rush. His sharp eyes glared through the snow, trying to catch a glimpse of the only thing he ever truly owned and cared about. His ears listened intently for the gleeful call of the Snowickle. But he heard and saw nothing. Another wave of ice and snow flew out of his mouth, and he flew towards the Terror Mountain path, leaving a mess of snow and ice and coldness behind him.

     Atop the cold mountain, Tonic was busy chomping on some Snowberries, sometimes tossing a piece at the Snowickle by his side. His feet dangled off the edge of Terror Mountain, and his eyes feasted upon the gorgeous view before him. He saw the ocean waving in the distance, and Neopia Central's burning glow of lights lit up a part of the dark world. Tonic reached down and handed another snowberry to the Snowickle, who happily munched on it. The Snowickle's happiness seemed to be lacking, but a sometimes aggravated look appeared on his face whenever he tried to run but was pulled back by the rope around his neck. Finally, a soft whimper echoed from the Snowickle's mouth as he stared at Tonic with large eyes.

     "I'm sorry, 'Ickle, but I have to tie you up, you see? So that you won't run back to the 'Ager. You see, you're going to make me very rich," Tonic grinned at the Snowickle as he dropped another snowberry at his feet. The Snowickle just whimpered again, then bent down and gulped down the white berry. Tonic stared down into Happy Valley, a few miles below. But all he saw was pure white, with an occasional chimney popping out of the snow, and some whiffs of smoke floating away.

     A cold draft flew on him, sending a shiver running down his spine. Staring around, he felt as if something was wrong. Everything was completely silent, but if felt as if this deep rumbling was shaking the world. Like some sort of earthquake.

     Moments later, Tonic's eyes widened in surprise when a swirling mass of frosted ice attacked him and the Snowickle. He reached out, his paws searching in vain for the critter that will take all his troubles away. After hastily searching with his numb hands, he finally got a hold of the rope and followed it until he felt something icy under his fingertips. With both hands gripped tightly on the little Snowickle's back, the Shoyru desperately stared into the snowstorm, hoping to catch a glimpse of Taelia's igloo or some sort of ceiling to hide under.

     "It's okay, little guy, I won't let anything happen to you," Tonic screamed after his search for some type of shelter proved pointless, but the Snowickle only stared at him. The puzzled expression upon the Snowickle's face resembled that of the Snowagers, as if they really were brothers. Tonic lifted the Snowickle and placed him carefully into a sack. He slung the sack behind him and opened his wings, preparing himself for flight. Just as he was ready to fly off, the wind stopped blowing like a hurricane, and the ice and snow stopped raining down on him.

     Tonic stared around in awe once again. The tranquility took the place of the blizzard so quickly, almost as if somebody exhaled an upheaval of snow and inhaled it back in seconds later. He lowered his wings, and was ready to just sit down again and continue eating his snowberries (safely tucked in the bag with the Snowickle) until he felt a breath of cold air tinge his neck.

     His eye's bulged open in fear, for he knew that the cold air didn't come from the wind. The gusty breaths continued to rain on his neck as he slowly turned around and stared into the eyes of the raging Snowager.

     "I-I-I can explain," Tonic stuttered before the Snowager lunged forward towards him. Tonic jumped out of the way just in time, spreading his wings and pushing himself off the ground. The Snowager stretched his long body upwards, his jaws wide open, his eyes blazing with cold fire. But he couldn't reach Tonic, for Tonic was high up in the air by now, the sack dangling against his back.

     The Snowager let out another blast of ice, aiming it straight at Tonic, but Tonic simply dodged it. The thieving Shoyru was extremely agile, and even more quicker in the air. Another blast of ice flew towards him, but Tonic just simply flicked his wings and he flew a few feet away from it. The Snowager looked desperately at the Shoyru, his eyes filled with frozen tears of frustration and terror. Pain conquered his emotions as he stared at the unreachable Shoyru. His jaw was partly opened, tasting the bitter cold of the wind upon his mouth. The Snowager's body felt limp, yet he managed to keep it still and rigid. The piercing eyes was now desperately pleading with Tonic, asking him to give back the only thing that ever mattered to them.

     Tonic simply flew a few feet away in reply. With a smirk planted on his face, Tonic turned tail and disappeared among the clouds, taking the Snowager's heart with him.

     Deep within the cold caves of Terror Mountain, two Neopets approached an opening in the wall. The opening looked like it was naturally made, since the sides were battered and jagged with ice daggers that threatened anyone who approached them. By it's sides, large drifts of packed snow towered like, well, towers, hiding the opening from the view of the other Ice Cave dwellers. As the two Neopians passed by the opening and into the cave within, their eyes fell on a long, icy, monstrous beast that lay on the ground; the Snowager. But instead of staying in the cave to keep him company, the two Neopets flew in terror from the icy beast.

The End


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