Book of Wisdom: Part Four
Hannah stood on the ice, looking at where the cracks met, and the ice sank inward, as if it had been punched with an enormous fist. Black powder was scattered around the area, making a dark sooty carpet over the indentation. This catastrophe had been no accident. She remembered the black powder she had lit in order to escape the dreaded pirate caves. This cavern had been mercilessly blown apart.
Hannah stared up. The stone of the cavern was now visible. Above the black mark on the ice was a small hole in the stone, a tunnel. It was high up, so Hannah assumed it must be a long tunnel. Unless the person that had done this had died in the explosion. She shuddered. Suddenly, a long moan escaped the ice. Hannah’s ears perked up. She ran across the ice, sliding towards the voice. The moan came again, closer this time. She slid over a piece of ice, and started as she faced a deep pit dug into the ice by the explosion.
In the pit, however, lay a baby Korbat. Hannah stared, heart thumping.
“Mommy? Mommy...” The baby Korbat was whimpering and looking around, despite her vision being restricted by ice. Hannah tried to think of a way she could get her attention without startling her.
“Do you need help?” she said softly.
The Korbat looked up in alarm. “Where’s my mommy?” she asked, her huge eyes staring up at Hannah.
Hannah lifted her out of the pit, and said softly, “Don’t worry, we’ll find her.”
Armin ran up next to Hannah. “Did you find any survivors?” he asked. His eyes slowly drifted to the Korbat. “Oh no. Where are her parents?”
Hannah stared at him. The look on her face gave him a sinking feeling. She gazed affectionately at the Korbat, who was shivering in the cold. She removed her coat, instantly relinquishing its warmth. She wrapped it around the Korbat, and she stopped shivering. “What is your name?” Hannah asked her.
“It- It’s Belle,” she said, sounding very small.
“Well, Belle,” Hannah said, smiling, “let’s go inside. There’s an igloo back there.” She gestured behind her. They started the walk back, with Hannah trying to hide how much she wished for her coat. She knew that Belle needed it a lot more than she did, though.
“Armin, you look for more survivors,” she called as she trudged through the layer of snow that had begun falling. Armin watched them go. He walked around, until he found himself in front of the Snowager’s cave. The giant ice serpent was curled up, sleeping. Armin tiptoed in. Since the Snowager was asleep, he might be able to grab some food! He was just about to take an extremely delicious looking juppie, when the stone ceiling cracked. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion, and a huge piece of the ceiling fell. It landed on the sleeping Snowager’s head.
It sat up and looked around. Its cold blue eyes fell upon Armin; a tiny Bori standing weaponless in front of it. Armin yelped and ran out of the cave. When he had exited, he stopped and caught his breath. A huge, icy head emerged from the cave, then almost the entire body. Armin was stunned. As far as he knew, this was the first time the Snowager had ever come out of its cave. Armin saw that underneath where it usually lay, an iron ring stuck up from the pile of items.
Curious, he ran over to it, and the Snowager turned its icy head around to follow him. Unfortunately, the huge serpent could not go back into the cave until it got the rest of its body out. Otherwise, there was no room. Armin threw a negg that was near the ring. He also discarded an assortment of key rings. There, beneath the treasure, was a wooden door. The Snowager roared. Apparently, it had gotten itself untangled. Unsure of what to do, Armin opened the door and leapt inside. He shut it firmly behind him.
The Snowager had no limbs, only a long snaky body. It could guard the door, but it could never open it. The inside was dark, which is not surprising, considering that the door was closed. Armin felt around. His hands brushed against something hard. He picked it up, and held it up to the crack between the door and the ground, where faint light seeped through. It was a cedar box, locked with a sturdy padlock with an unbelievably small keyhole. He crouched there, waiting for the Snowager to leave.
Unfortunately, the Snowager didn’t leave, there being absolutely no reason to. No one even walked near the cave. Hannah, the Ice Crystal shopkeeper, Awohi, and Belle were all in the igloo. Suddenly, he heard a voice.
“Where’d Armin go?” He identified the voice as Hannah.
“I don’t know, but he was here a minute ago.” That one sounded like Awohi. His leg must be better. There was a brief pause.
“Maybe he went in there.” Armin assumed that they meant the Snowager’s cave. The Snowager roared ferociously. There was a yell, and the sound of claws scrabbling against ice. The Snowager slid from on top of the door. Armin stood up, pushing the door open. He saw Awohi run on the ice, the Snowager following. Hannah looked surprised.
“I found this door when the Snowager followed me out,” he said, answering Hannah’s silent questions. Hannah stepped forward, and looked inquisitively at the cedar box. He held it out to her. She took it, and examined the lock. Surprise flitted across her creased face.
“Three great beasts...” she murmured to herself, but Armin could not hear the rest of whatever she was saying.
“Let’s go back to the igloo,” she said. “Awohi! Come on!” Awohi ran up to them, ignoring the Snowager’s glares as it slid back into its cave. When they came back, they pushed at each other to get in as quickly as possible.
“Shh...” said the Ice Crystal shopkeeper. He pointed. Belle was curled up on the floor, wrapped in Hannah’s coat. Her breath came steadily, as if she were concentrating on her breathing. Her mouth was slightly open, and a tiny drop of saliva hung from it. Everyone was quiet. Hannah sat down on the floor, and put the box in front of her.
“Awohi, can I see the key for the book?” she asked softly. Awohi removed the key from around his neck and handed it to her. She silently put the key in the lock, and turned. There was a click, and the lock landed with a soft thump. With trembling hands, she slowly opened the box. Inside was a key, with a golden Snowager at the end. She picked up the book. When the cover had been pushed out of the way, a bronze plate was visible, with three keyholes.
She put the Snowager key in the first keyhole, and turned it easily. There was a click. She let out a sigh of relief, and put the key in her pocket.
“Two more to go. I think the best thing to do right now would be to go to Altador. Finneus will know what to do.” Awohi crossed his arms.
“I don’t think that Finneus would help us much at all. We should just go to the next place in the book. We can find the great beast there and get the key. Then, we can do it all over again. We can get the history of Neopia, then we can go to Altador.”
Hannah stood up and tried to protest, but Awohi snatched the book from her hands. He opened the book to the second page, and jammed his finger in the picture.
“No!” Hannah grabbed her coat and Belle, then leapt at Awohi. She felt his fur as they faded into the picture. Armin jumped forward. He was about to land on Awohi, when he completely disappeared. He hit the floor with a thump. Swearing ferociously, he stood up. The shopkeeper seemed surprised that someone so little and meek would know the words that just flew from Armin’s lips.
Hannah, Awohi, and Belle had all disappeared. He moaned, then walked to the door.
“Where are you going?” the shopkeeper asked.
“To Tyrannia. I need to get somewhere warm, and that’s the only place available to me by foot,” he replied dryly. He walked out the door, and stepped through the destroyed ice caves. He walked, until he saw the entrance to Happy Valley. He stepped through, and vanished from the shopkeeper’s view. He wandered around the valley, until he realized that there wasn’t a single food shop.
He certainly didn’t want to fill up on slushies and ice cream on his way to Tyrannia. He needed bread and cheese. He also wanted to find some vegetables and fruits, but he could find nothing but ice cream. His stomach grumbled. He went to begin walking to the top of the mountain.
To be continued...