IT WAS A long time before Rosy's blue and white head emerged over the top of
the cliff. Next, it was Emala's turn. The three already at the top ran in short
circles to keep themselves warm. Finally, Emala reached the top, and the group
continued upward. The snow was waist deep and hard to move in. It grew higher
at a surprisingly rapid speed. When Lupina, at the head of the group, was up
to her chest, she gave up. Dropping to her four paws, she began to dig through
the snow. It was surprisingly light, and she made good progress. The others
followed suit. Lily went last, because her short legs were not good at digging
like Lupina's or Rosy's were.
A while later, Lupina stopped to wait for the
others. They were following close behind. "Lily," Lupina suggested, "Do you
think you could fly above us and call out directions? We don't know which way
Lily thought a moment. "All right. But could
you break through the top for me?"
Rosy immediately straightened her long ears
and spun them so fast it seemed to be light blue blur. When she finished, a
hole had been drilled through the top of the tunnel.
"Wow. That was cool," Lupina said. Rosy grinned.
"I made that technique up myself. This is the first time anyone else has seen
it. I call it Gelert Drill. I intend to use it in our fight." Silence followed
her worlds. Our fight. They knew we would have to battle this "Sinistra"
person. None of them, though, had even considered what technique they were going
to use. Except Rosy.
Lily broke the silence by beating her wings and ascending through Rosy's hole.
"We've been veering off course," she called. "Turn left about forty degrees."
Lupina paused, thinking. History and Writing were her best classes, but she
hated math. Lily, on the contrary, was a math whiz. "Um, forty degrees... that
"This way." Emala pointed. Lupina glared at her.
"How come you cats are so good at math?" Emala only laughed.
"Well?" Lily called impatiently. "You going or not?"
"We're going, we're going!" Rosy said, taking the lead and digging at an angle.
She winked at Lupina. "Maybe it's just that you wolves are bad at math."
Sighing, Lupina followed.
The pace that Rosy set showed her boundless energy.
"Don't you ever tire?" Emala panted.
Rosy grinned impishly. "No. Do you?"
"Me? Never!" Emala put on a burst of speed, overtaking Rosy.
"Hey, guys," Lupina warned. "Not too fast. We don't want to start sweating."
The others immediately adapted a slower pace. They had all heard horror stories
of pets who had worked up a sweat in intense cold. Their bodies were like statues,
frozen in a sheet of ice.
Wordlessly, the friends dug on. Above, Lily shouted out directions. It seemed
that they were ever shifting their path. As they climbed, the air got thinner.
It was harder and harder to breathe. All four pets were beginning to feel weak,
and the storm still raged outside. The three tunnelers heard something thump
against the roof of their passageway. It bumped again. Lily burst through the
roof, showering them in snow.
"Whew!" she exclaimed. "It's good to be out of that. It's so windy out there
that my wings were almost blown straight off. And the snow is so thick, you
can hardly see!"
Lupina looked down sheepishly. "Sorry I suggested it."
"Oh, no, that's fine," Lily assured her. "If we can keep going straight north,
Emala frowned. "We don't have a compass, though."
Lupina sighed dejectedly and glanced down. Around her neck, on its blue ribbon,
her Lupe Moon Charm sparkled. "I know!" Lupina declared. "I could summon a compass
with my Charm." Without waiting for a reply, she closed her eyes and reached
into her charm to grasp a tendril of its magic. Taking the magic, she shaped
it into a line and allowed her third body to slip onto it. This body was her
magical body, the one that she could use in her spells to travel over Neopia.
She sped along the line, skimming down the mountain to Happy Valley, where she
threaded her way to her own home. Entering, she hurtled underneath the grand,
swooping staircase and into the library. She made her way through the maze of
bookshelves to the grand desk that Rosy's father did his work at. He was a mapmaker.
On his table lay many sheets of paper, charts, pens, and - in one corner - a
compass. In her true-life form, Lupina gritted her teeth. This was the hard
part. Because her magical body was merely a spirit, with the particles only
loosely composed, it was difficult to lift solid objects. She sent a quick wave
of power through her paws to solidify them for a moment and grasped the compass.
It seemed immensely heavy, but she held on. She grasped her magical line and
spun it back into her charm, dragging herself and the compass along with it.
When she opened her eyes, she was clutching the compass tightly in her paws.
She held it level and watched the needle. It swung around to point straight
ahead and slightly left. Lupina began to tunnel in that direction. The others
followed close behind as she forged through the freezing cold. She had to keep
reminding herself that she was getting ever closer to the summit of Terror Mountain
- and the Ugran Cavern.
Emala's teeth chattering broke through her thoughts. "It's cold," the
shadowed Kougra complained. Lupina turned, sighing.
"You want me to keep you warm with a spell?" Lupina caught a glimpse of Rosy
giving Emala a thumbs-up, and glared frostily at her. "This was a plot to get
warm, wasn't it?" she accused.
"Oh, great expedition leader," Rosy began. Lupina snorted. Rosy ignored her
and went on. "Perhaps in your might you feel not the bitter cold that harasses
us." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "And you know what my mom is like when
any of us catch a chill." It was true. Rosy I had studied with Dr. Gelert in
health care, and ever since she had wanted to try her methods as a healer on
the next generation of heroines. Yes, nettle and leek soup did make them feel
better, but it burned and stung on the way down.
"All right," Lupina agreed, "but I don't think 'harass' is exactly the right
"Too bad," Rosy said, tossing her ears back. "That's what I said, like it
Lupina chuckled and closed her eyes to call yet again on the magic of her
Lupe Charm. Taking a ball of it as if it were clay, she willed it to become
pure heat. Almost immediately, she felt warmth in her paws. Her magical self
began to spin it into fine thread. Unlike solid objects, magic was easy to hold
in this form, just as solid objects were easy to hold in her solid form.
It wasn't long before the entire ball of heat had been spun into yards of
fine thread. Next, the magical Lupina took the thread and flitted in and out,
back and forth, weaving warm netting. Soon, she had yards of invisible cloth
made entirely of heat. Using her claws, she tore the cloth into four cloak-shapes.
Lastly, she made the cloth so it would be attracted to her friends' skin and
Taking the first rectangle of heat-cloth, Lupina approached Rosy. Her friend
had a bit of frost topping her nose. Lupina draped the cloth over her and heard
her gasp in surprise. Ignoring it, she tailored the cloth so that it was streamlined
with the Gelert's body. Then, using extra cloth she had cut off, she encircled
Rosy's ears, tail, and legs.
She proceeded around her friends, and finished by cloaking herself. Then she
returned to her solid form. Her body was stiff from sitting in the same place,
but a quick wisp of magic helped relax her muscles.
"That was cool, Lupina!" Emala exclaimed. "I feel like I'm wrapped
up in heat!"
"Not exactly 'cool,' maybe more 'warm,'" Lupina observed. "And, in a way,
you are wrapped in heat. Each of us is wearing a suit that I designed specially
to fit our bodies, but will not interfere in any way with movement or senses.
I'll bet Lily can hear just as well as always."
Lily rotated her sensitive Aisha ears on their stalks. "You're right. I can.
And what I hear is that the storm is raging even more wildly outside, and we
had better get going."
Emala laughed. "I'll go along with that, Lil'."
They resumed digging, although now each felt wonderfully warm, despite the
blizzard that raged outside. After a time, Lily asked, "Lupina?"
"What?" Lupina replied, not stopping her relentless tunneling.
"Do you think you're warm enough now to use your parts?"
"Probably. What for?"
"Well, see, I was thinking that since you can teleport now, you could go ahead
and fight that Captain Sinisitra person."
"No. Don't," Emala cut in. "Lupina, it's not safe. You know that you're only
Level 8. You hardly have any powerful abilities! We'd stand a better chance
if we all went at it together."
Lupina thought a moment, then turned to Rosy. "What's your opinion on the
"I'd have to say Emala's right. You wouldn't stand a chance alone." The cloud
Gelert shook her head. "We'd do better if we stuck together."
Lily opened her mouth to protest, but Lupina spoke first. "All right. We'll
keep going for, like, two hours. If we aren't there by that time, I'll go alone.
Emala looked as if she was about to protest, but Lupina gave her the special
look she reserved for times when she wanted no arguments. Emala shut her mouth.
"All right. Let's get going."
Less than an hour later, Lupina and her friends were still at it, tunneling
through the deep snow. Lupina was still leading, and the cloaks of warmth kept
them from freezing.
"It's almost been an hour," Lily said.
Lupina checked her watch. "Not quite."
Just then, the snow before them broke off. Lupina blinked. She had become
accustomed to dimness of the tunnel. Now she had emerged in the mouth of a cave.
The snow had almost blocked the entrance. The cave was lit by a bare light bulb,
hanging from the ceiling on a wire. The others followed Lupina out, blinking,
just as she had. Looking around, Lupina noticed that, at the back of the cave
stood a huge machine. Its body was a complex structure of bars, wires, and pots
of liquid that slowly bubbled. From the body of the machine rose a great beam,
with a Dr. Sloth-style ray gun on the top. Lupina advanced cautiously. Her mother
had once had an encounter with Dr. Sloth.
"Lupina-" Rosy nudged her shoulder "-there's someone there. On the seat of
that contraption." Lupina glanced up. It was true. A blue Quiggle was seated
by the controls of the machine. He looked down and saw them.
"Ha! Foolish puny pets, you shall never defeat ME!" The Quiggle hopped down
from the seat, glaring at them through one eye. He probably meant it to be intimidating,
but it looked so comical that the four burst out laughing.
The Quiggle's neck veins swelled in rage. "You DARE laugh in the face of Captain
Sinisitra the Quiggle of Doom?"
"Yeah... haha... uh... heehee... yes, we... ahahaha... we do!" Rosy burst into
gales of laughter. Lupina put a paw on her shoulder.
"Rosy, he's not joking. Maybe he looks pitiful, but I was just checking his
stats and they're way higher than ours." Rosy sobered.
"I see you have managed to get past my blizzard." Sinisitra gestured towards
a Blizzard Ring lying on the table, shooting a blue-white beam out the cave.
"No matter, that was merely to delay you. You're real challenge comes now; in
the Ugran Cavern Battledome Arena."
Lupina took a deep breath. Here goes, she thought. Gathering her power,
she sent a blast of fire at the Quiggle. He leaped back, surprised. The flames
caught his webbed feet. Cursing, he beat the flames until they died away, leaving
"Lupina, split!" Rosy yelled.
What? Lupina thought. Split? Suddenly, she realised what Rosy
meant. Becoming two would double her power. Quickly, she sent her other part
to the opposite side of Sinisitra. The others helped her, circling the Quiggle.
He was quick. Pulling forth a Rainbow Frost Cannon, he pulled the trigger.
A ball of rainbow frost hurtled at Lupina, freezing her in a solid block. In
her other form, she could move, but slowly.
Emala leaped forward and hurled a shower of fireballs at her, melting the
ice. In a trice, she was on top of Sinisitra, growling and biting from two directions.
He sent up a shield. She could have cared less. All she wanted was a diversion
so that she could really build up her magic. She could feel it swelling up against
her mental wall that held it back. It pressed against the wall, pulsing, surging
forward. Lupina let only a bit through, shaping it to break Sinisitra's magical
shield. It worked perfectly. Meanwhile, more magic was swelling behind her dam.
Quite suddenly, she let it fall.
From two sides, a tremendous blast hurtled towards Sinisitra, knocking him
over. Lupina could see that his hit points were dramatically reduced, in her
sense of things, but he still had a large amount left, far larger than the amount
taken away. She gritted her teeth this would be a long battle.
"So, you dare to attack me?" yelled Sinisitra. "Well, take THIS!" Drawing
forth an Ice Sword, he chopped at them.
Lupina shook her head. She could see exactly what this fellow had done. He
had gotten high stats and powerful weapons, but never bothered to train in the
ways of battle. He had assumed it would come naturally. Indeed, to some it did.
It was obvious, however, that he was not one of them.
An Ice Sword, though, was something to be reckoned with. Sighing, Lupina readied
herself. Again, she rallied her magic. Before she could use it though, Lily
had darted at the face of the Quiggle. At first, it seemed the craziest move
she could make. Then Lupina began to see her tactics. As Lily scratched at his
eyes, he hacked blindly in front of himself, away from Lily. She was so small
that he couldn't hit her. When she finally had to leap away, one of his eyes
was ruined. Had Lupina not needed to save her breath, she would have yelled
in happiness. Now, Sinisitra would have no good 3-D vision. Rosy, who hadn't
taken a large part in the fight so far, grinned and used smokescreen. Catching
on, Emala joined in, then Lupina. Lily didn't have smokescreen.
Surrounded by fog, blind in one eye, Sinisitra could only see faint shapes
moving. He could not tell how far away from himself they were. Suddenly frightened,
he spun around, his sword out straight, ready to strike any foe. There were
none. Sinisitra's fright grew to terror. "Vister!" he screamed. "Now!"
Ready for a new attack, the group clutched their weapons. A cold-eyed Zafara
"No, don't pounce on me. This is single combat. Only one may step forth. If
I defeat-" he glanced around "-her in a fencing match, then I will challenge
another, until you are all dead. If she defeats me, the way to Sinisitra is
Rosy and Lupina traded glances. They were the best fencers. "You fence really
well," Lupina offered.
"Only when I'm really mad," Rosy replied.
Lupina almost laughed. "Well then, I'll go first, and if he defeats me, you'll
probably be mad enough." She winked, and took out her Sword of Domar. Rosy,
Lily, Emala, and her other self drew back to watch.
Vister was already holding a Sword of Domar. Lupina drew hers and took the
Lightning fast, Vister swung his sword to the side, an arc of white light.
Just as quickly, Lupina blocked and, seeing a small opening thrust her sword
towards his throat. But he moved his sword up faster than she could believe
to lock hilts with hers.
The two strained at each other, trying to push the other to the ground. Lupina
locked her leg joints in place. Finally, she broke her sword away, quickly moving
it in on the side to make a shallow wound in the Zafara's arm. He moved in quickly
and forcefully, switching his blade to the other hand. She only just managed
to block as he struck in and down. Her blade hissed towards him, he lunged back,
landing lightly. He circled, stalking her, searching for a fault in her swordsmanship.
Lupina watched carefully the muscles of his torso. In many fencers, these muscles
would betray their next move. Vister's, though, showed nothing. Without warning,
he moved in with a sweeping uppercut. Lupina blocked swiftly, stepping up and
into his blow. Freeing her sword, she slid it up to his throat.
There was silence for a moment. "Kill him." Emala's voice sounded from behind
Lupina turned her head ever so slightly. "Do I have to?"
"Ye-" Rosy started, but, taking advantage of her distraction, Vister kicked
her away and raised his sword again. She lunged back, almost losing her footing,
but her claws dug into the rock and she stayed on her feet. Vister feinted at
her, trying to find her weakness. Lupina dodged and slashed in at his right
side, opening a cut on his arm. For a moment, his face contorted with pain,
but he moved in again, attacking with lightning speed. Lupina blocked and parried,
feeling her strength slowly begin to drain.
"Hey!" Rosy cried angrily at Vister. "No using magic!"
He's using magic? Lupina thought dazedly as she blocked his thrusts
and slashes. Suddenly, her strength returned, filling her. She felt a fierce,
exhilarating joy in the battle. She could defeat this Zafara. She could - and
she would. She attacked with speed that even she didn't know she had,
her blade spinning and slashing. Vister was driven back. She swung her blade
in a crescent, he blocked it. Whipping her sword around, she brought it down
in a vertical butterfly-sweep. Lunging back to avoid his slash, she spun to
the right and thrust inward. With a clatter, Vister's blade dropped to the floor.
His eyes stared ahead wonderingly. Three words slipped from his mouth.
"You... destroyed... me." Then he fell to the ground and was silent.
A scream of rage came from the back of the cave, where Sinisitra had been
watching. Raising his sword, he hurtled forward at Lupina. Her alarmed friends
couldn't move in fast enough; he was already on top of her. She dodged and rolled
away, his keen blade missing her by mere inches. She was defenceless, her sword
buried in Vister's dead body.
She was flat on her back, the Quiggle moving in. He raised his sword high
over his head, eyes bloodshot. Lupina squeezed her own eyes shut. She heard
a hiss as the blade began to descend.
Without warning, a huge explosion rocked the cavern. Unnoticed by any of the
gathered pets, Lupina's Lupe Moon Charm had been building up power as she fought
with Vister. Triggered by her imminent doom, it released an immensely powerful
blast, using even the magic stored up in her other charm, on her other self.
Her eyes snapped open. The image she saw before her was frozen in two mental
photographs. One showed a gleaming blade of ice directly above her head, with
a beam of rainbow light with blinding brilliance streaking from below her chin
at the mad Quiggle who was holding the sword. The other showed a mirror image
of herself flat on the stone floor with a powerful, rainbow-coloured beam of
light streaming at the Quiggle about to slash her in two.
Sinisitra froze, paralysed. Lupina could almost see his life-force flickering
and fleeing from his body. With his last ounce of strength, he sent the surge
of his remaining magic to the blizzard ring lying on a small shelf on the machine
in the cave. In turn, the ring sent an icy beam out the front of the cave. The
wind outside doubled in velocity. "You will not leave this place alive... The
blizzard will stop you... The ray will fire in 15 minutes... You cannot stop
it... All the pets of Neopia will have their souls sucked from them... and I...
will be... reborn..." He trailed off. With a sudden small explosion, he disappeared.
To be continued...