Flame of Ice: The Story of a Warrior - Part Four
Part Four: The Riddle
The pictures faded away from the walls. “I still don’t get what the coins are about,” Sage told the Draik.
“The coins,” the Draik said calmly, “are magical. They were made long ago after the Gelert defeated the creature by a young Xweetok. She gave them to the Gelert and his friend, a Draik. They were declared the Guardians of the Coins. They had to protect the coins, for if they fell into the wrong hands, they could be used to cause destruction and chaos.
“But on the up side, the coins could be used to keep the creature at bay... away from the inhabitants of Neopia, and locked in an icy cave.”
“Wait, so, this creature’s not dead?” Sage asked, dismayed. “But you said that he was!”
“No, I said the Gelert defeated him,” the Draik replied. “I never said that he killed him. Now, this creature may have been locked up, but we should have known it couldn’t last forever. Some Ice neopets found his hiding spot. He convinced them to let him out of his icy prison. He came back to that area of Krawk Island. Now, those waters were inhabited by the Gelert and his band. The creature was able to take the coin from the Gelert. He used it to put the Ice neopets that had followed him under his control, and to take all of the band prisoners. All, that is, except for two. The Guardians of the Coins were still free, for he had a much worse fate in mind for them. The creature took the Gelert first, and was using the coin against him. The Gelert told the other Guardian to leave, so that he could get help. The Draik watched for mere moments as the Gelert fought. He was able to knock the coin out of the creature’s claw, but it was too late. He and the Sword of Ice and Flame were already trapped. The Draik swam away quickly to get help, but the Ice neopets followed him. Run though he try, he could not evade them. They caught up to him, and tried to take the coin from him. They would have succeeded, as well, if one Fire Shoyru hadn’t saved him. Once again, Sage, I thank you.”
“You’re that Draik!” Sam gasped in surprise.
“Yes,” the Draik replied. “I’m glad that you were able to find that coin, young Samari. If not, the creature might have been able to get it back.”
Sam stared around at the magical walls that surrounded him. “Was the creature that attacked you and Sage the same creature that threatened Neopia long ago?”
The Draik nodded. “Now that it has been released, it threatens Neopia once again.” The Draik looked down into the water. “You two found the coins,” he said, “so you two are the only ones that can stop this creature.”
Both Sam and Sage jumped back in surprise. “Couldn’t you do it?” asked Sage. “I mean, you are one of the Guardians of the Coins.”
The Draik solemnly shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t. You see, I am too old now to put up much of a fight. The creature would be able to defeat me and get the coins.”
“Then, I guess that you’re right,” Sam said. “We are the only ones.” After taking one more look around him, he replied, “I’ll go.”
“Don’t think you’re going to have all the fun,” Sage said as she stepped forward. “I’m going, too.”
The Draik smiled broadly, tears forming in his eyes. “Thank you,” was all he was able to whisper.
As the Draik turned to leave, Sam asked, “Wait, where do we have to go? What do we have to do?”
“You must go to Terror Mountain,” he replied. “There should be a secret cavern hidden from anyone else. The only way to get in is to use the coins. From there on, you’re on your own.”
“And what about the riddle?” asked Sam.
The Draik just smiled. “That is for you to find out for yourselves.” Then, in a flash of blinding light, the walls and the Draik were gone.
“Well,” Sage said, “I guess we’re heading to Terror Mountain.”
As they walked down the path that would lead them to Terror Mountain, the Draik watched from the water. “Young ones,” he said, “you have a perilous journey ahead of you. You have yet to find yourselves, or the magic that rests within you. You must find it and awaken the Flame of Ice.”
The two travelers gasped as they found themselves at Neopia Central. “How much further to we have to go?” asked Sam.
“A long ways,” replied Sage. Then she asked, “Why do you ask that? You act like you’ve never been to Terror Mountain before.”
“Truthfully, I haven’t. I didn’t even know that there was a place called Terror Mountain, until not that long ago.”
Sage’s eyes widened in surprise as she said, “How could you not know about Terror Mountain?”
“Well, I used to live in only a small part of Krawk Island. My village was far away from the main settlement, and it was guarded by trees, a cliff, and the vast ocean. We were separated from the rest of the world, so we had no idea about anything in the outside world. Except, that is, that it was there.”
“Oh,” Sage said quietly. Then, her face got brighter. “Well, we won’t get to Terror Mountain by just sitting around here!” she said. As she started to walk forward, she said, “Come on, Sam, let’s get moving!”
Late that night, Sam and Sage sat around a fire. They had eaten some of the fruit Sam had packed in his bag, and were now telling each other stories that happened in their lives.”
“Then, Dac and I had to act as clowns!” Sam exclaimed, finishing his story. Sage couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “Yeah, you think it’s funny,” Sam said, “but you weren’t the one who had a face made of pie by the end of the night!” Then, after a slight pause, he started laughing, too.
Once Sage got control of herself, she said, “It sounds like you and Dac are pretty good friends.”
“Yeah,” Sam replied, “we are.”
“Sam,” Sage said quietly, “why did you leave your home on Krawk Island? What made you come to Meridell?”
Sam sighed, but recalled the story of how he had found the coin, the Warrior Ceremony, and what the Warrior Shaman had told him.
Sage looked a little stunned by his story. “That creature attacked you, too, then?” she said.
Sam nodded. “The Story of the Warrior is the same story the Draik told us,” he said. “I had always thought that it was just a legend; a bedtime story for a warm summer’s night. But now... now I’m living it.” Sage looked at him, sadness in her eyes. “So, Sage, what was your life like?”
“Well,” she began, “my life is different than yours, and yet the same.” After taking a deep breath, she continued. “I lived with my owner on Terror Mountain. A owner is a human who takes care of neopets,” she explained when Sam gave her a confused look. “Anyways, my owner would always take me to see the Snowager, this giant ice worm that hoards a huge amount of treasure. Every time he’d take me there, I’d fail to get anything. He was greedy, and told me that he wouldn’t feed me unless I brought him back something from the Snowager. Eventually, since I never brought anything back for him, he abandoned me. He left me alone on Terror Mountain. I was young, and cold, and scared. Since then, I’ve been alone.”
Sam looked over at Sage. The dim firelight glimmered off Sage’s sad face. “Sage... I’m sorry,” he said, looking down at his shaking paws.
Sage just shook her head. “There’s nothing to be sorry for,” she said. “It’s in the past now, and the past can’t be changed.”
Sam decided it was time to change the subject. “Hey, what about the riddle on the back of the coins? Have you figured it out yet?”
Sage shook her head. Then, she pulled out the coin that she was carrying. “The Tear that Burns, the Fire that Melts, the storm that shatters the call, but the flame of ice shall win the brawl.” After staring at the coin for a little while longer, she said, “Remember the story that the Draik narrated for us? I think the part about the flame of ice refers to the Sword of Ice and Flame.”
Sam nodded. “I’m pretty sure it does. But, what does the rest mean?”
Sage just shook her head. “We’d better get some sleep,” she said. “If we’re ever going to make it to Terror Mountain, we’re going to need to be rested up.”
The two trudged on until they reached the chill of Terror Mountain. The cold chilled them as they walked along, though they kept moving. However, once they reached the Ice Caves, they decided it was time to get warmed up.
Sage and Sam entered a building that said, ‘Hot Chocolate: Nice and warm!’ at the top. They sat down at a table, shivering. “I really hope that it’s not as cold as it is outside where we’re going,” Sage said.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say it will be colder,” Sam replied.
“If you’re not going into another building, you’re probably right.” Both Sam and Sage quickly looked up at the sound of a new voice. A human girl stood before them. “I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation, but I’m like that. So, can I get you two some hot chocolate?”
“Yes, please,” Sage said, still shivering.
Not long later, the girl came back with two mugs of hot chocolate. She placed them in front of Sam and Sage, then asked, “Um, so, where are you two heading?”
“Well, we’re... we’re just exploring,” Sam said quickly. “But, we’re hoping to find a secret cave somewhere.” The girl looked at them sadly for a minute, then turned her head. “What’s the matter?”
“Well, three of my neopets found an odd cave, if you want to explore it,” she said. Sam and Sage’s faces brightened, but the girl quickly added, “I wouldn’t if I were you, though. My neopets went exploring in it, but they haven’t come back yet.”
Just then, a Green Eyrie slammed the door open and ran over to the girl, yelling, “Amy, I’ve got another riddle for you!” He stopped before the girl and announced proudly, “You’re never going to figure this one out!”
“You’re good at riddles?” Sage asked.
“Yes,” the girl replied. “In case you didn’t notice, my name’s Amy. This is my other neopet, Phoenix. Phoenix, these are...”
“Sam,” Sam said, indicating himself, “and Sage,” and he indicated Sage.
Phoenix nodded in acknowledgment. “Amy, we have a riddle that we can’t figure out. It’s on the back of this one coin.” Sam pulled out his coin and flipped it over to the back.
Amy read the back of the coin carefully, then reread it. “That is a hard one,” she said. “I think the part about the Tear that Burns and the Fire that Melts refers to people. See how they’re capitalized?” She pointed to those parts in the riddle. “As for the rest, I have no clue.”
Sam sighed and put the coin back in his pocket. “Well, this riddle isn’t all that important,” he said. “There’s a bigger riddle that still needs to be solved.”
To be continued...