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Trouble: If You Don't Find It, It'll Soon Find You - Part Two


by toffee_choc

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Minty, Orange and Milk_choc crashed through the foliage and landed with a cushioned thump.

     Minty glared at Orange. "Are you nuts? I say we scrap this and get to the Healing Springs - I've never felt so bruised!"

     "Hush!" said Milk_choc suddenly. "Do you hear…rustling?"

     The three edged closer together as the rustling grew closer and closer. Minty raised his paw, bracing for the inevitable impact…

     "EW!" he shouted suddenly, shaking his arm in disgust.

     "W-what is it?" asked Orange anxiously.

     "It…it LICKED me!" cried Minty incredulously.

     Milk_choc rolled her eyes (unseen in the dark) and reached in her pack for the emergency flashlight Orange had made each of them bring. The beam of light illuminated the surrounding area, including the culprit.

     "A Chomby!" exclaimed Orange. "What's a Chomby doing under Terror Mountain?"

     "Orange, don't you ever pay attention? This is where TC said we'd end up, remember?"

     Milk_choc rolled her eyes again, and turned to the Chomby.

     "Hey there, d'you mind showing us the way to the Village? I think we'll get lost if we try it alone!"

     The Chomby bounced up and down a few times, tongue lolling out, before bounding away into the undergrowth. Milk_choc turned to her brothers and sighed again. They were both gaping at her and the retreating back of the Chomby.

     "Look," she said patiently, "do we want to get out of this jungle?"

     Orange was the first to respond. "Uh…yes?" he answered uncertainly.

     "Good," returned Milk_choc. "Then MOVE!"

     Startled by their usually calm sister's snappy response, both pets turned and fled after the Chomby, who was only just visible through the thick underbrush.

     It didn't take long for the Chomby to lead them to the edge of the Village - he seemed to consider it his job, for as soon as they'd got there he vanished into the depths of the jungle once more.

     Minty watched him go. "Well, that was…weird."

     He turned to the others.

     "Right, we're here, in Tyrannia, as predicted - now what do you want to do?"

     "Shop!" said Milk_choc.

     "Explore!" cried Orange, in the same breath.

     "Oh goodie. Milk_choc, why don't you go hit the shops and I'll keep an eye on Trouble here."

     He glared at the lively Kougra.

     "I'm sure you were less trouble as a female Kacheek."

     Orange flashed his most angelic smile before bounding towards the cave paintings. Minty shrugged and began to follow - after all, what trouble could they find in a cave full of paintings?

     Ten minutes later, a dishevelled royal Zafara stumbled out of the caves, followed by a cheery Christmas Kougra.

     "Gee, who would've guessed that the Cave Chia lived in there? And that he'd want to challenge us to a fight? Good thing you were there to take him on, Minty!"

     Minty could only glare at him before pulling them both away from the entrance, where a menacing shadow was approaching.

     "Look," he hissed, "can we please find something to do that doesn't involve pain or discomfort?"

     "Volcano Run?"

     "Too hot."

     "Grarrl Keno?"

     "Are you crazy? BIG dinosaur!"

     "I know!" said Orange finally. "Let's go get some omelette!"

     Minty brightened. "Good plan, I could do with something to eat!"

     No-one would have looked twice at the two pets sitting on the plateau, munching on their free omelette. After a brief struggle over the last few pieces, the Zafara leaned back and sighed.

     "You know, it's actually quite nice here," he remarked, as the sun lifted over the edge of the volcano.

     He glanced at Orange. "When we're not being attacked or LICKED by anything."

     Orange, however, was no longer listening to his brother. He was looking over the craggy ground, to beyond the concert hall.

     "Hey, Minty," he said nonchalantly, "what do you say to a game of Kacheekers?"

     Minty looked at him suspiciously. "I thought Kacheekers was, and I quote, 'the dullest game ever to hit the surface of Neopia.'"

     Orange grinned sheepishly. "Now I see it here, it doesn't look so bad! Come on!"

     However, after ten minutes it appeared that Minty had been right. The Kougra was fidgeting in his seat, and Minty was beating him without the slightest difficulty. As he took Orange's last piece, the Zafara glanced at his brother. Something was bothering him, there was no mistaking it.

     "Alright," he said. "What's the matter? Orange?"

     The Kougra glanced at him, then at the completed board…and grinned. "Excellent! Now we can go in there!"

     Minty turned to see where his brother was pointing. He gulped.

     "In there? The lair of the beast? Orange, are you crazy? Have you forgotten what happened to Fluff? It's NOT a good idea to go disturbing big, angry, prehistoric monsters!"

     Orange rolled his eyes, grabbed the Zafara's paw and dragged him towards the entrance.

     As they entered the cave, it was eerily quiet, apart from the sound of water dripping.

     Orange brightened. "This isn't so bad! Let's go!"

     Minty sighed. "Ever heard of the calm before the storm?"

     Orange looked at him quizzically before taking the flaming torch that was sitting on the side, and continuing into the cave. Further in, it was no longer so quiet.

     "Gosh, I wonder what makes scratching noises like that?" mused Orange.

     "Even Kougra claws aren't that long. Perhaps it's a Tonu's horn, or a Bori sharpening his claws, or-"

     "OR it's a big beast, waiting to eat us!" growled Minty, through clenched teeth. "Look, can we go back now?"

     The Kougra reached forward and tugged something, looking upwards. He threw the torch onto the floor and looked at his brother.

     "Nope," he replied, "it's just getting interesting." And with that, he hauled himself through the hole above.

     Minty sighed and pulled the rope towards him. "Well, here goes nothing."

     He reached the top to find Orange looking into a pitch black cave, with tooth-like rocks encircling it.

     "Oh yeah, that looks inviting," he said sarcastically.

     Even Orange looked a little pale (even paler than usual) as he approached the entrance. Together, the two pets entered the darkness. Orange's coat shimmered as they went deeper. Soon, all they could hear was their own shallow breathing. Suddenly, a creaking sound filled the darkness, and the beast itself swung into view.

     "AARGGGHHHH!" screamed the two in unison.

     Just as they were about to flee, Minty remembered something - his own emergency flashlight, stowed under his hat. He flicked it on.

     An ear-splitting screech filled the cave, and sounds of leathery wings beating against rock could be heard.

     "I guess that took care of THAT monster," said Minty in satisfaction. "Now, let's GO!"

     Meanwhile, Orange had retrieved his own flashlight, and was aiming it cautiously in the direction of the monster.

     "Hey Minty!" he called, "I'm not convinced this IS a monster - look!"

     Sure enough, what had been a monster was now a tangled mass of strings, wires and broken electrical equipment.

     "A puppet?" breathed Minty, "why would it be a PUPPET?"

     "Perhaps to hide something?" suggested Orange. "Something like that!"

     Aiming his flashlight behind the puppet, the beam revealed a narrow doorway, with stairs leading upwards.

     Curious in spite of himself, Minty followed his brother up the narrow, damp stairway, until they reached the other end. Blinking as they stepped into a brightly lit cave, his eyes adjusted, only to find…

     "You've got to be kidding." muttered Minty, with a scowl at Orange. "HOW did we end up here??"

     Orange shrugged, looking uneasy. "I guess we DID go up a lot of stairs…"

     A muffled snore from above reminded the pair exactly where they were. The icy coils shifted slightly as the worm slumbered, rolling a Negg towards Orange's feet. He picked it up thoughtfully.

     "Minty!" he breathed, "think what we could do with this find! Sneak in the back door - we could get so much great stuff from this! And look - the Snowager moved slightly in his sleep, but we're still here!"

     "Orange," growled Minty through gritted teeth, "we are NOT going to steal from the Snowager. We are going to put that Negg back - CAREFULLY - and retreat quickly through those caves, put the puppet to rights and carry on. Got it?"

     Orange rolled his eyes and turned around, trying to come up with a suitable response. All thoughts of which faded immediately as he stared at the previously empty doorway.

     "Uh…Minty?" he whispered. "Mind if I share a theory with you?"

     Minty frowned as he surveyed the great mound of the Snowager's treasure. "What are you talking about, Orange?"

     "Uh, well…"Orange took a deep breath,

     "What if that giant puppet we shut down was in fact just up while the real monster was sleeping and now he's back and found out that we've dismantled his contraption and is none too pleased about the fact and has now come to see whether we like visiting the big ol' Snowager and is now blocking our only means of escape while deciding whether he wants Kougra as appetizer or main and wondering if Weewoos make a good dessert and -"

     He choked as a strong paw grabbed his collar and yanked him determinedly away from the beast's glinting eyes.

          As luck would have it, during this tirade Minty had been busy working out a way through the Neggs. As a rule he didn't pay much attention to his brother, who was younger and prone to excessive excitement; which was perhaps fortunate, as he hadn't looked over his shoulder to see what Orange had been panicking about.

     They crashed through the pile of Neggs at the side of the cave, the beast hot on their heels. Icy called from up above, signalling that they were almost out of the cave, when the Snowager suddenly reared its head up (As Minty would comment afterwards, it's amazing it took it that long to notice the chaos around it).

     Spying the two neopets, it took its usual measure and fired an icy blast at them, just as the beast swooped down.

     Minty and Orange stumbled out into the gleam of the Ice Caves. Orange glanced up.

     "Look Minty…did we get blasted?"

     Minty frowned. "I don't feel any different…do I have icicles on me?"

     Orange shrugged. "Nope. We'd better get back before TC realises we're missing and can think of a punishment."

     Together, the two pets wandered out of the caves onto the glistening peak of Terror Mountain. Icy paused at the mouth of the Snowager's cave, where a crowd seemed to be gathering.

     Back at home, TC greeted them with a cup of hot chocolate.

     "Did you hear what happened?" she asked. "Apparently the beast from Tyrannia somehow got into the Snowager's cave and got blasted. I wonder how it got there…"

     Minty glanced at Orange as he threw himself on the sofa. "No idea," he replied. "Funny old world, isn't it?"

The End

 
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