IN TYRANNIA, LUPINA had gotten close enough to hear the group's discussion.
They had decided to split up. Lupina's and Lily's parents were going to explore
the jungle, while Rosy's and Emala's searched the caves on the plateau. Lupina
decided to go with her parents, as that would make the group four. Her mother
led the way, swinging a machete to chop away the undergrowth. Lupina followed
their trail, staying just out of sight. She did not know, however, when they
stopped at a tar pit, and almost ran into their backs. Panicked, she teleported
into the jungle about 40 yards - right into a tar pit. Desperately, she struggled,
feeling the sticky, clumpy substance suck her under. At the last minute, she
regained control, and teleported to the side, where she tried to clean herself
off, to no avail. She shuddered as the place where she had been slowly filled
up with tar. Then she turned her attention back to her goal. She teleported
back close to the group and continued following them. The tar on her body was
starting to dry, making her stiff and uncomfortable. It was then that the explorers
found the first cave.
It was sizeable, but not at
all a pleasant place. Besides some fresh Korbat dung, the place looked forgotten.
Still, it was a cave, so it was to be explored. Lupina followed her family in,
keeping to the shadows and avoiding the patches of dung. She slipped up onto
a ledge as she saw the three coming back. Her sudden movement startled some
roosting Korbats, and they took off with a loud chatter and a flurry of wings.
The three parents paused to look up. Lupina flattened herself inside a crack.
Suddenly, she noticed the crack seemed to go on back into the mountainside.
She followed its winding course. Perhaps this was where the hideout was! The
crack was dark and damp, but Lupina felt her way onward. Surely there was an
easier way in than this, if they had a machine to take over the world in the
The crack took a sudden turn
and narrowed, then it stopped. Nothing. Feeling a bit embarrassed, Lupina teleported
back to the path.
A while later, they came to
a whole new network of caves. There were four caves going into the cliff. Lupina
took the entrance that none of the older pets had taken and set off.
The cave started off as a
wide, relatively well-lit tunnel. Lupina explored every nook and cranny. The
cave ended in an uneven wall. Lupina started back, this time walking straight
across the cave. Little did she know, a paws-tread before her was a disguised
trap door, held shut by only a rotting branch. Unaware of it, she stepped forward,
and vanished with a yell that was swiftly muffled by the momentum of the door
slamming it back shut. It stuck. Lupina landed on all four paws, crouched on
the dusty stone floor. Standing up, she looked around. Bits of scrap metal lay
on the ground. In the corner, she found a ripped corner from what looked like
a blueprint. The ink, however was hopelessly blurred. Sighing, she let it flutter
to the ground and walked into the next room. Instantly, she made a face of disgusted.
Remains of food were splattered all over the room, apparently the one used for
eating. In one corner, hidden by a food-covered shower curtain, was a relatively
clean bed. Small bedroom, Lupina thought wryly. Just then, some commotion
from above caused her to look around for a hiding spot. The only place in the
room was behind the shower curtain. Panicked, she ran towards the door, tripping
and falling heavily on the splattered wall.
It gave way. Lupina looked
inside. The huge panel opened to a curving, slightly sloped passageway. It was
very large, is if something huge went in it. She went inside. Discovering a
handle, she pulled the door back shut. She could here voices from the first
"Lily, are you all right?"
it was Lupina I's voice.
"I'm fine," Lily I replied.
"All right. Zakani, have that
rope ready to pull us up." Lupina I's voice again. Apparently, Lily I had fallen
through the trapdoor, and Lupina I was coming down too while Zakani stayed in
the upper cave to pull them out.
Lupina tried to quiet her
breathing. In the other room, they were discovering the same evidence as she
"Looks like this is their
old hideout," her mother said.
"Indeed," Lily agreed. "Let's
look in the next room."
Standing, Lupina peeped through
a crevice in the door/wall. A flash of black, red, blue, and pink. That would
be Lupina I and Lily I. Pressing her eye closer, Lupina saw them investigating
the splattered food and the bed. Her mother was now against the wall next to
Lupina's spyhole, out of view. She was pushing on it. Hastily, Lupina withdrew.
She almost teleported into the first room, but decided against it, since her
father would be watching. Instead, she teleported up beyond the bend of the
tunnel. Each time her mother approached, she would teleport further down. In
this method, they reached the top. It came out on a bare, windy plateau. Lupina
reveled in the feeling of fresh, cool air on her face, but hurriedly ducked
into hiding as her mother emerged. She, too, paused for a moment to enjoy the
breeze. Then she began to explore the plateau. It wasn't much. Flat and bare,
dropping off into a cliff at all sides, with only a couple boulders to hide
behind. Lupina worried, for if her mother began to search the boulders, she
would have to teleport away or be discovered.
Suddenly, her worries ended.
Back in Snowy Valley High, Lupina and her friends were in Geography class,
learning about Terror Mountain. Their teacher droned on in the same flat tone,
but it was the words, not the tone, that suddenly startled Lupina and her friends.
"At the peak of Terror Mountain,
Ugran Cavern lies, snowbound for most of the year. Possibly the most difficult
location to access in Neopia, it is in an area prone to avalanches. Many explorers
have attempted to reach it, all but one have not returned. He who returned died
two days later of hypothermia, without telling of the journey..."
The four friends had heard
enough. They quickly snuck out of the classroom, Lupina teleporting into herself
again. Ducking through the icy hallways, they searched for a spot to hide and
talk. Emala's eyes fell on the door to the girls' bathroom. She pushed it open.
Luckily, no one was inside. They crowded in, closing the door behind them.
"We have to go now,"
Lupina panted. "There isn't much time. We're the only ones who can get up quickly."
"But didn't you hear? Only
one of the many explorers who tried to access it returned, and died soon after.
They were probably full grown, too. We wouldn't stand a chance!" Rosy declared.
"She's right, you know," Lily
Lupina's eyes hardened as she
looked at her friends. "Maybe you've forgotten that at this time, we alone can
save Neopia. Adults would never believe us, and our parents are too far away.
If I have to climb Terror Mountain, I'll do it. And if I don't return, you'll
know I died trying to rescue Neopia!" Shaking with rage, she stalked out of
the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Her friends stared at each other
for a moment, then ran out of the door after her.
A few minutes later, they were
in the storeroom which held the equipment for mountain climbing. The only things
remaining were three ice picks. Lupina glanced out the window to where students
were clambering up a huge ice block. "No chance of getting more of these. One
of us will have to go without."
"I will," Lily volunteered.
"Maybe you've forgotten, but I am a Faerie Aisha." She fluttered in the
air. Lupina grinned.
"Thanks." She hefted one of
the picks, as Rosy and Emala picked up the other two. "Now, let's go!" She led
the small expedition outside, sneaking through the school grounds to the base
of the path up Terror Mountain.
"We'll never get all the way
up in time," Emala despaired. Rosy joined her, sizing the mountain up.
"You're right. I know a better
way!" Seeing Lupina's look, she assured, "Don't worry. I think that together
we'd have enough lunch money to get a ride on the ski lift." Lupina's face cleared
up as she dug out her money. This time, Rosy led the way and did the speaking,
handing over their money.
"Hmmm..." the Usul at the desk
said. I'm sorry, you need one more Neopoint..." Seeing the crestfallen faces
on the young ones, she laughed. "...But I'll let it go. This way." She pointed.
Two minutes later, the four
were huddled together on a ski lift, looking down at the slopes and admiring
the brave NeoPets who raced downward, zipping back and forth, performing tricks
in the air. After a while, they climbed off at the lodge nearby the village.
Picks in paw, they looked up at what they had yet to climb. It was terrifying.
Rosy broke the silence. "Well,
let's go." Her voice sounded hollow and scared. Lupina led them up the path
toward the hill. As they went, it became gradually steeper. Before long, they
were digging their claws into the slick ice as they clambered upwards, ever
upwards. A storm was coming up, with strong winds screaming in the ears of the
friends. A yell reached her. She turned, almost knocked over by the wind.
"Lupina... you... teleport?"
Rosy screamed over the wind. Bracing herself, Lupina made an attempt. In her
mind, she saw her teleporting gates begin to open, but they clanged shut again.
She did not have the strength to teleport.
"No!" she yelled back. "It's
no use!" She hadn't imagined that it could ever get cold enough to freeze her
teleporter. Turning again, she slanted her body into the wind and took another
Before long, the snow started.
It was soon so heavy that Lupina could barely look down and see her nose. Stepping
forth, she slammed into an icy block.
"Guys!" she called. "Come up
here!" She thought she heard a returning shout, but it could've been the wind
mocking her. Still, she stopped to wait.
What ever drove me to do
this? Lupina thought wearily. How did I convince myself I possibly could?
As if in a dream, she recalled her words to her friends. At this time, we
alone can save Neopia... Gritting her teeth, she let out a long howl of
defiance into the storm.
"Lupina," Rosy gasped, dragging
herself up next to Lupina. "We thought we'd lost you. We've got to stick together."
Lupina grinned sheepishly.
"Sorry. I got away from you
before the storm started. But I should have waited, when it did."
"Agreed, Lily said, fluttering
up and over to join them. "How far does this ice thing extend?" The four linked
paws and started to their right. Lupina almost tripped over a disguised rock.
The ice block seemed to extend for a long way. They started back the other way
and went twice as far.
"It's no good," Emala said
glumly. "We'll have to climb it." Lily cleared her throat. "Or at least, all
of us except Lily."
"That's better. Now, I've got
an idea. I'll fly up with a rope and tie it to something. Using your ice-axes,
you can climb up," Lily suggested.
"Good idea. I'll go first,"
"OK." Lily took a big coil
of rope from Rosy. "See ya!"
Lupina watched as she ascended,
pink wings flapping rhythmically as she rapidly disappeared into the thick snow
that fell endlessly. The group waited for what seemed like ages before the rope
came snaking down.
"Ready?" Lupina screamed, but
it became just another part of the howling wind. Shrugging she tugged the rope.
It was made fast. Gripping it, she grinned at her friends. "Wish me luck!" With
that, she swung her ice axe back. Once, twice, the blade hit the slippery surface.
An indent had been created at head height. Lupina was a strong and agile young
Lupe. She scaled the short distance to the foothold easily. Wielding the axe
again, she created another foot hold.
As she got higher and higher,
her footholds became closer together. The snow in the air was so thick that
it was hard to swing the axe. The cold bit at Lupina's exposed face and paws.
Her eyes burned, her nose smarted. Standing on a foothold, Lupina paused to
look down. Her paw slipped. She dangled in mid-air, her front paws gripping
the rope in a tight clutch, her back paws scrabbling furiously at the smooth
surface. After what seemed like a very long time, one of her paws found a foothold.
Gratefully, she pried one of her paws from the rope and took the ice axe that
was hanging on her waist. Yet again, she swung it.
Lupina was in extremely good
physical condition, but the long climb was taking its toll on her. Her limbs
felt leaden. The ice axe seemed ten times heavier than it had been when she
started. Her muscles ached from the effort.
One of her footholds was higher
than it should be. With an extra heave, she hauled herself onto it. Above, she
heard a sharp crack. For a second, the rope went slack. Lupina dropped a couple
feet before it tautened again. But she continued to slide down the slick wall
of ice. Glancing up, Lupina saw Lily's frightened face appear over the edge
of the cliff. She was holding onto the rope, but Lupina was too heavy for her.
She was being dragged over the cliff.
In a surge of panic, Lupina
did the first thing that came to mind. She made an attempt to teleport. To her
surprise, it worked. One of her parts appeared beside Lily. She grasped the
rope, hauling her other body upwards furiously. She didn't dare relax. Not yet.
Slowly, she and Lily backed up. She struggled over the ledge and re-emerged
"How?" Lily spluttered.
"I think it was the climb.
It heated me up enough to teleport," Lupina explained. "What happened up here?"
Lily smiled sheepishly. "There
were two stalagmites, a big one back there and a smaller one up here. I didn't
know how far down the rope extended, so I tied it around the small one. I guess
it was too small."
"Yeah," Lupina said seriously.
"But there was room to spare. Let's tie around the big stalagmite." Lily didn't
even correct Lupina on her improper use of grammar, which meant that she was
very shaken indeed.
"Do you think you could teleport
down and tell them the next one can start up?" Lily questioned when they were
done. Lupina tried, but she couldn't.
"I guess I was only barely
within the limits," she explained. "Is there any other way to tell them?"
"Well, we could jerk it three
times. That's what I was about to do with you, but the rope went taut and I
figured you had already started up," Lily told her.
"Fine with me." Lupina took
the rope and jerked it upwards three times. A few seconds later, it went taut.
Rosy had started her climb.
To be continued...