Secret of the Advent Calendar: Part Three
They walked for what seemed like hours, and the farther they got, the more the temperature rose.
“I’m going to die of heat,” Kikoo said dramatically.
“No, you aren’t, you big baby,” Chichichi scolded and crawled onward. The tunnel went onward until they reached the concealed opening, which was behind a large boulder. As they came out into the reddish glow that filled the place, a terrible sight met their eyes. Hundreds of neopets were enslaved and forced to work for the meepits, each forced to do a terrible task. Shoyrus jumped up and down on giant pistons that pulped and pounded molten metal. Scorchios blew flames to heat the wood until their flames burnt out all together. Kougras dug pit after pit, tunnel after tunnel, mining for iron. Kacheeks like Mojo pushed massive boulders into the pit of molten metal so that they too were melted. Myncies were forced to climb up and down a rock face with food for the Snowager, which they had captured and stolen treasure from. The rest of the neopets that could not work were carried up the cliff by the Myncies and eaten. It seemed that the meepits were just the minions of one more powerful. He who was their master strutted back and forth giving orders. It was the Evil Mutant Kadoatie. Kikoo gasped and Chichichi had to clamp a large paw over her mouth.
“Shhh! He might hear us,” Tillia whispered.
“We’ve got to figure out how to set free all of those pets in that big cage,” Vo said. “Or else they’ll be eaten by the Snowager.” Jibjuff shuddered. She had read in the Neopedia about the Snowager; the endings were always gruesome. The stories said that the Snowager slept on a pile of treasure, plushies, neggs, and all sorts of valuable things. Now the Snowager did not sleep; it thrashed around its cage in search of the thief who took its treasure.
“Maybe me and the other Kougras can dig a tunnel through the cage floor,” Chichichi suggested.
“Are you crazy?” Kikoo asked. “The cage floor and bars are solid steel; even you can’t dig through that! The only way to get rid of these bars is to melt them, and the only fire is guarded by the meepits.”
“You're right, Kikoo, we do need to melt the bars, but as you’ve pointed out, there’s no way we can get any fire unless we make our own,” Jibjuff reasoned.
“But none of us are Scorchios,” Vo pointed out.
“We aren’t, but they are,” Tillia pointed at some of the sleeping pets who were, at the moment, not forced to work.
“Hey, you guys!” Chichichi called. “We’re going to get you out of here, and all you’ve got to do is melt through these bars.”
“We can’t sustain a flame that long, and the only fuel we have is that which we eat,” a disco Scorchio complained.
“Use a piece of my apron,” the Soup Faerie said, ripping off a strip of the soiled fabric.
“This will work perfectly!” a yellow Eyrie who had overheard the conversation said. “All of the pets with wings can fan the fire to keep it going, and then we might be able to get out of here.” They set the plan in action and in a short time they were free.
“What about all of the pets that are still working?” Kikoo asked.
“If we leave the gap open, the meepits will see it and pursue us,” Jibjuff said.
“But if we block it with a rock, they won’t even know to move it,” Chichichi said.
“What if we leave a message using the ashes from your apron,” Vo suggested to the Soup Faerie.
“That might actually work!” Tillia exclaimed. “Maybe we can use Chichichi’s tail to write with.”
“But that would get soot all over my beautiful tail and soil the tip,” Chichichi complained.
Jibjuff clamped a paw over her mouth to repress her mirth. “You're already as black as the shadow Usul, you silly beast. You can’t get any more covered with soot.”
The vain little Kougra looked himself over. He was indeed black, all of them were. Jibjuff sighed in relief when her brother agreed to use his tail as a pen. The message read as follows:
Pets in this cell, you must push this rock aside so that you can escape up the tunnel.
Chichichi wrote the message next to the opening and shoved a rock into the gap.
“Now we need to get out of here and get help,” the Soup Faerie whispered and started lifting pets into the tunnel.
“Where? From who?” Jibjuff asked.
“From the Faerie Queen,” the Soup Faerie answered.
Vo gasped. “Will her army led by the battle faerie come and kill the meepits?” he asked.
“I hope so,” the Soup Faerie said and followed the pets into the hole from which they had entered.
By the time they had reached the top of the tunnel, the snow had stopped and the skies had cleared so that they were nearly blinded by the bright sunlight, especially the pets who had so long been in darkness. When the last pet had been lifted out by either a Mynci or a Draik, the Soup Faerie explained her plan.
“All of us are going to go to the Faerie City where Fyora lives. Then Jibjuff and I will go to her and explain the situation to her and give her the location,” she explained.
“How come Jibjuff gets to go see Fyora and not me?” the rescued Mojo complained.
“Because Jibjuff was the first to notice the problem with the Advent Calendar,” the Soup Faerie explained. Mojo sulked but said no more. “Eyries and Draiks must carry other pets so that we all can all get to the city,” the Soup Faerie explained and as this command was voiced, all of the pets scurried to obey. Within a short time they were in flight going towards the Faerie City.
“Look at the clouds!” a baby Lupe called out as they flew above Faerieland. The group landed near the city.
“You can stay here and play in the fountain and on the clouds but don’t get yourself into trouble,” the Soup Faerie said, “And on second thought, Jibjuff, maybe you shouldn’t come in, but you can stand outside the door in case I need you. Mojo stuck his tongue out at Jibjuff but she ignored him, following the Soup Faerie instead. They climbed up what seemed to Jibjuff like hundreds of stairs to enter the Faerie City and then up even more stairs to Fyora’s palace. The Soup Faerie opened the door and was about to enter when she said a last word to Jibjuff. “See if you can clean yourself up a bit in case I do need you. You're covered with soot and ash.” Jibjuff nodded and noted to herself the agitation in the Soup Faerie’s usually calm voice. Jibjuff tried to rub off some of the black muck in her fur but only succeeded in spreading it so that it more completely covered her green fur so that it looked more like she was a shadow Lupe. She was about to try and cover every patch of green but an Air Faerie opened the door and summoned her to come to the Faerie Court. Jibjuff gave her fur a last rub and entered the palace. A circle of Faeries stood in a circle around the edge of the room and at the opposite and of the room Fyora sat. She was more majestic than dolls and portraits depicted her as. She sat in a great purple throne with a tall staff in her hand.
“Come here, young lupe,” she called to her. Jibjuff hesitated but the Soup Faerie who stood near to the queen waved her forward. “That’s better, now tell me exactly what has happened with the Advent Calendar, the meepits, and the Evil Mutant Kadoatie.”
“Yes um, err... your majesty,” Jibjuff stuttered.
“Get on with it, I haven’t got all day!” Fyora snapped.
“Well, um, I noticed that some Advent Calendar gifts were coming alive and acting against their owners; I also noticed that whenever these things would cause problems, meepits came and stole money. Later we found the hideout of the Evil Mutant Kadoatie where he was enslaving pets to make more weapons,” Jibjuff explained.
“Where is this place?” a Fire Faerie asked impatiently.
“On the top of Terror Mountain,” the Soup Faerie answered before Jibjuff could.
“Battle Faerie, ready your army to root-out this crazy Kadoatie who thinks he can control the world,” Fyora said to the Battle Faerie. “Soup Faerie, you must take all of these pets home to Neopia Central.” As the Soup Faerie and the Battle Faerie Departed, Fyora turned to Jibjuff. “You, Jibjuff, will receive a medal of honor for discovering the secret of the Advent Calendar,” Fyora said. Jibjuff glowed with pride as she received her medal. She was not a war hero but she had seen many things in her adventures, and now the Advent Calendar would be safe for many years to come. Jibjuff walked out to the group of rescued pets. As they flew home, they could see the Faerie army flying to Terror Mountain to defeat the meepits.
Jibjuff opened her birthday present and from inside the box came a sound that made Jibjuff nearly faint. Meep, meep, meep... it was a meepit.