“You’d think that in early spring, Terror Mountain would
at least be a little warm,” Bluey complained.
It was morning, a bright dawn to a new day. They
sought the Snowager, an old friend of theirs they had once met by chance and
befriended by luck.
“C’mon,” Dragoon urged, his Green Shoyru body
shrugging off snow. “Just a little farther. It’s for Spirit and Darkmoon.”
Finally they approached a massive cave carved
out of the mountain. The inside was dark and foreboding, but Bluey and Dragoon
“Hello?” Dragoon called.
“Shh! You’ll wake him up!”
“Isn’t that what we want?” Dragoon asked.
“Oh, right,” Bluey admitted. “Hello! Mr. Snowager!”
“RAWR!” came a mighty bellow. The Snowager’s
gigantic head raised, and he took a breath and pelted Bluey and Dragoon with
“Duck!” Dragoon shouted, diving into the snow.
Bluey obliged. “He doesn’t seem to be in a good
mood, does he?” he said, his voice partially muffled by the snow.
Bluey lifted his head but was attacked with
another round of icicles. “MR. SNOWAGER! IT’S US!”
“RAWR--Bluey?” the Snowager said, blinking in
surprise. “Is...is that you? And Dragoon?” he asked, as Dragoon stood up.
“Yeah,” said Bluey, “it’s us.”
“Oh, geez, guys, I’m so sorry. I thought you
were someone trying to steal my items. JamezBfod was just in here taking something,
and some Neopian named Chet Flash swiped some items yesterday. But what brings
you guys here?”
“We need to ask you something. Did you see Spirit
and Darkmoon last night? Or any time recently?”
“Eh? The blue Zafara and Green Gelert? No, can’t
say I have.”
Dragoon looked down sadly. “Then--have you ever
heard of an item called Nikola’s Jewel?”
“Oh, yes. Evil thing, that.”
“What does it do?” Bluey asked, suddenly gripped
with horror. “We think Spirit and Darkmoon touched it.”
“Geez, guys, I don’t know how to break this to
“No,” whispered Dragoon.
“Trapped. The jewel is a mystical device--thought
it was legend myself until I saw its effect. It was pretty neat to have, as
it kept Neopians from stealing my items for a time.”
“You had it?” Bluey gasped.
“Yes, until it was stolen yesterday.”
They knew it when they saw it. The palace was
colossal--and made entirely of translucent azure crystal. It looked more like
a castle than a palace, with its many cylindrical towers and fortress-like surrounding.
“How do we get in?” Spirit wondered.
“Easy,” said Dantus. “There’s no security system
past the gate.”
“Then what’s the gate’s security system?”
“You’ll see,” said Dantus, smiling.
They walked closer to the crystal fence. The
top had crystal barbed wire and the gate was sealed with a lock that it seemed
only magic could open.
Hanging right over the gate was a sign: “Out
to lunch. Come back later.”
“Well, I guess we’d better go,” said Darkmoon,
“Yeah,” agreed Spirit, following him.
“Come on, guys,” Dantus said, grabbing both of
them. “It’s bewitched to make you think you have to leave.”
“Oh,” said Spirit, looking at the sign. “Well,
that’s pretty neat.”
“I was just joking, guys,” Darkmoon defended,
“really. Dantus, how come it didn’t affect--I mean, why didn’t you play along?”
“Someone told me about it.” He pushed the gate
open, and the lock clicked open.
Darkmoon and Spirit followed him uneasily. The
small courtyard before the main entrance of the palace had realistic grass and
Rowzes planted in neat flower beds. A cobbled walkway of silver and blue stones
led them to the towering main entrance to the palace. They looked up at the
stormy morning. A showering of rain drizzled on them, making them a tiny bit
anxious to enter the mysterious palace.
Spirit pushed a shimmering door open and they
found themselves standing in a dark, spacious hallway. No one was there.
“Where to?” Darkmoon whispered.
“Nikola’s bedroom,” Dantus whispered back. “She
keeps her belongings there.”
Spirit’s eyes widened, but he said nothing.
“Um, how do we know if she’s there or not?” Darkmoon
“Oh, you’ll know,” Dantus replied.
Darkmoon wondered again whether or not they were
right in trusting Dantus.
“Her room should be upstairs, with a sign on
the door,” Dantus informed. “When you get to it, you absolutely must go in.
No matter what.”
“You’re not coming with us?” asked Spirit.
“No, I’m guarding the door.”
“We should stick together if we’re going to do
this.” Darkmoon rounded a corner and found a winding crystal staircase, and
the others followed him.
“I’m sorry,” said Dantus, “I can’t. Nikola shouldn’t
be here, she’s supposed to welcome some new prisoners. We’ll have at least an
hour...but I want to be sure.”
Darkmoon stared at Dantus hard, his eyes blazing.
“How do you know all that?”
Dantus sighed. “I thought you’d want to know.
I’m Nikola’s highest-ranking official.”
Spirit gripped the staircase and looked toward
the exit. He and Darkmoon could still make it. “Then you’re just leading us
into a trap!”
“Then why are you helping us if you’re on her
“Because,” said Dantus, “I want to get out, just
like you. Nikola appoints us to make sure everything’s going all right, and
that the people have food and water--”
“I don’t believe you!” Darkmoon bellowed. His
voice echoed off the walls.
“When I accepted the position,” Dantus said bitterly,
“I was hoping Nikola would free me. She didn’t. So ever since, I’ve been a double
agent, collecting information to one day lead everyone to freedom.”
“You could still be lying to us.”
“Yes, I could,” said Dantus. He glanced behind
himself as the door they used to enter sealed itself with crystal, blocking
their escape. “But you have no choice now, do you?”
Spirit bounded up the steps, trying to get away
from the maniacal Grarrl, trying to find an exit, anything. He had trusted Dantus,
and now felt betrayed.
Darkmoon followed him breathlessly.
When they reached the top, they caught their
breath and listened. They couldn’t hear anyone following them. After a moment,
they pressed on.
To be continued....