"Holly...Holly? Wake up, oh please, wake up."
Paws were shaking me. I opened my eyes and saw four worried little faces peering
down at me, ears drooping: Two Snowbelles and two Icechips.
"Snowbelle? Icechip? How'd you divide yourselves?"
"Holly!" they both yelled at the same time and
flung themselves on me. I pushed them off and sat up. My head was still throbbing.
I saw my snowboard was nearby, along with the twins' skis and poles.
"We thought you were dead," Snowbelle whispered.
She was close to tears.
"I'm fine," I said, stroking her head fur. I
looked around. "Where are the others?"
Icechip shrugged. "We were slidin' on our backs
and came out of the mist here. You were already there, but you were lyin' like
you were dead."
Must have hit a rock on the way down and blacked
out, I thought. But where were the others? I looked around. There was only
the vast expanse of snow everywhere, with the mist-drowned slope leading upward
behind us. Everything was still and white in the moonlight. There were no signs
of life at all. A lone snow Lupe howled in the distance, and a chill wind blew
past, making us shiver despite our fur.
"I'm scared, Holly," whispered Snowbelle plaintively,
clinging to my paw.
Icechip patted her back. "S' okay, Belle. We
came here to find Missy's sister, remember?" Snowbelle nodded and pulled herself
together. "Right. Let's go and-" She stopped short, her face frozen in shock.
Icechip and I followed her gaze and stared. Standing
on the snow on the other side of the crack in the ground was one of the dread
creatures, its long shadow showing up dark on the moonlit snow. It opened its
huge mouth, full of teeth like rocks. The look of greed in its eyes was as I
remembered. It started to come towards us. Before we could get up and run, the
snow-creature placed one huge, black-clawed foot across the crack in the ground.
Instantly, as though responding to a signal,
three other creatures appeared out of nowhere. But these creatures were much
smaller and lighter than the snow-monster. As well as that, they were green
and had huge red eyes and insect-like antennae sticking out of their heads.
They wore brightly coloured scarves tied loosely around their necks.
The three green creatures swiftly gathered snow
from the ground and packed it firmly into balls, then threw them at the snow-monster.
The snow-monster roared and tried to retaliate by throwing snowballs back, but
the three green creatures working together formed a barrage of snowballs that
soon had the snow-monster turning tail and lumbering back the way it had come
until it was lost to sight behind some icy crags. We stared in admiration. We
had played the game of snowball war before, but never had we seen them thrown
as quickly and accurately.
The three green creatures laughed and patted
each other on the back. Then they came over towards us.
Seeing them up close, I remembered what they
were called. I had seen some of them at past Happy Valley Snow Fests. Mother
had told me what they were. The largest one held out a paw towards me, though
it looked more like the foot of a Nimmo I had seen once.
"Hello," he said, grinning cheerfully.
"Hi..." I ventured. "You're a...a Grundo, right?"
"And proud of it!" yelled one of the other two,
a female. The last Grundo burst out in laughter.
"Those snow beasts are putting their claws out
of line again," said the first Grundo. He spat contemptuously in the direction
the snow-thing had gone.
"They're called...whats?" asked Icechip.
"Snow beasts," said the Grundo. "Nasty things,
those. Always coming and acting like they own the snowfield. We have our territory
and they have theirs-the land on this side of the crack is ours-but they're
forever coming here. We have to keep them back the only way we know how-snowballs."
"It used to be easier," grumbled the second
male Grundo. "They used to just give up and run away every time."
"Since they learnt to throw snowballs, they've
been harder to chase off," said the female Grundo. "But it's more fun, if they
put up a bit of a fight. At least I think so."
"You would, Nyma."
"We never introduced ourselves," said the first
Grundo. "I'm Tragg, and this is my brother Borg and my sister Nyma. We're triplets."
"You're Hollyfrost Snowpaw, aren't you?" asked
Nyma, peering at us. "And you Snowbelle Snowpaw, and Icechip Snowpaw?"
"Yes," I said. "Why?"
"Your friends are waiting back at our house.
It was the only house they could find, they said. They wanted us to find you."
Good old Tokum and Angel. "Let's get back then,"
I said struggling to my feet but immediately I felt pain shoot through my head
and fell back onto the snow with a yelp.
"Oh dear," said Nyma. "Are you quite all right?"
"I'm okay, I'm okay," I said, but as if in punishment
the pain stabbed even harder, and I put my paws to my head.
Borg's green fingers probed the back of my head.
I winced despite the gentleness of his touch. "No wonder," he said. "You've
got a lump the size of a Lenny's egg back here."
Snowbelle and Icechip quickly related what had
"No doubt you hit a rock on the way down," said
"Well, we'll get you back to our house, don't
worry. I was prepared for this sort of thing." He whistled shrilly.
Out of nowhere I saw through a haze of pain a
large creamy gold creature with three heads come bounding over the snow and
felt its warm breath as it stood sniffing at me. I heard the twins gasp in surprise.
"Don't you worry," said Nyma. "It's just our
Bearog Rako. He pulls our sled. He'll get us home." Dimly I felt myself being
lifted onto somewhere that was soft and warm, and then the motion of being pulled
at a fast rate over the ground.
I must have lost consciousness again because
when I opened my eyes I was lying in a bed The pain in my head had completely
disappeared and so, I found when I gingerly felt the spot, had the lump. I got
out of bed and walked through the doorway to find the Grundos and several Usuls
sitting at a table. They had evidently been worried. Angel and Tokum ran to
"Don't ever do that again!" Angel almost shouted.
"We thought you'd been lost, or pet-napped by one of those snow beasts. And
you're lucky that Tragg had a healing potion handy-"
"Never mind me," I said firmly. "What's the
"Zenith of the moon," said Tokum. (In the language
of Neopians that live in the city, I think that means midnight.)
"Remember what we're here for," I said. I turned
to Tragg. "These snow beasts, did you see them pet-napping any pet before?"
Tragg raised his eyebrows. "Pet-napping? Those
great lumbering brutes? Never imagined it. I haven't seen them do it before.
Not a lot of pets come down here." Perhaps Frostys was somewhere else, but I
remembered the look in the snow beasts' eyes the two times I had encountered
it, and knew without a doubt that whatever Tragg thought, Frostys was with them.
"We have to find their hideout," I said. "They might have been pet-napping Usuls-and
maybe other pets too- for Fyora knows how long!"
Tragg nodded slowly. "We can try to track them
for you, but we've never been to their den before."
"As long as you can get us there," I said.
"Let's go," called Tokum from the door.
To be continued...