“Those villagers will not quit the sacrifices!” grumbled one of the PPLers. “How are we supposed to save them if they keep getting all of those petpets?”
The Chia fingered his mug of hot chocolate, still thinking. He asked the Skeith at the opposite end of the table, “And where do they get so many of them?”
The two Neopets were in the crowded shack where the PPL stayed when they were on break from trying to stop the villagers from feeding the Snow Beast. Most of them were grunting at their partners about how hard it was to save the petpets that were thrown into the Snow Beast’s cave, while others were buttoning up parkas to go out and have another try at being a life-saving goalie.
The blue Skeith leaned across the table. He answered, “They probably raise them, so they don’t run out. I’ve watched them throwing the poor things from about twenty feet away from the cave. If the villager misses, the petpet runs off into the snow, most likely to starve or freeze. It’s just mean what they’re doing.”
PPLP (Petpet Protection League Person) 104, the Chia, agreed. Where else would the hundreds of petpets come from? The Shop Of Mysteries?
Suddenly, the PA System made a little beeping noise, and a voice announced, “Group A’s break is now over. I repeat: Group A’s break is over. All of Group A go back to your posts. Thank you.”
The voice was gone, but just to be replaced by more grunts and whines of, “We were supposed to have five minutes! My watch says it’s been four!” 104 and 105, the Chia and Skeith, sighed to each other. They trudged into the crowd of pets standing impatiently by the little door that was so hard to go through. This is because the shack was underground. Outside, it was a huge hill of snow, to trick the villagers. The PPL didn’t want an angry mob to come and attack them, so the entrance was a little hole; the exit a cramped flight of stairs, only enough space for one person across.
But soon PPLP 104 and 105 were crouched in the snow, waiting for the signal to rush to their posts closer to the lair of the Snow Beast. The two looked around at the other PPLP in their snow covered camouflage jackets, also listening for the call.
A noise! A few beeps, and one long howl, the code for: Go to your posts! And then the Chia was crawling madly to the right, the Skeith close behind him, and the PPL Group A was plowing through the snow, moving unseen to the cave in different directions, to go to their posts and to help the poor Snorkles and Babaas that would be fed to the Snow Beast if they didn’t hurry.
A red Kyrii peeked out of his tent. The sky was still dark, but he knew that it was time to get ready.
Beside the Kyrii’s tent was another, where a Techo had been sleeping. Now he was a few yards away from the Kyrii, opening the little gate to the pen holding the Babaas. He tied them together so that they would stand in a line, then took the end of the rope and led the ten petpets out of the pen and closed the gate. The other petpets stuck their heads over the wood fence and called to their friends in a language only they understood, “Come back! Don’t leave! The ones who do never come back!”
The Kyrii was tying his robe in place when the Techo was at his side with the petpets. He motioned for them to go, and the two pets, ten petpets, and the rope of Babaa wool traveled to the lair of Snow Beast.
The two were mostly quiet, but the Techo knew that his student, Fire, was dying to say something, so he said, “Fire, we travel to the lair of Snow Beast on this cold day. Are we going the correct way, my pupil?”
The Techo stopped, and Fire, the Kyrii, inspected a half-buried tree. Moss grew on one side, and the other side was bare. The Kyrii bowed to his teacher.
“Master Green, we should turn to the left; the north is over there,”—he pointed – “and the cave is over there.” He pointed again.
The Techo smiled. “Very good, young Fire,” he whispered, so as not to be heard. “Let us keep walking and I will ask you to tell me the Legend.”
Fire took a deep breath. The Legend was quite long for someone to remember the whole thing, but he started.
“Long ago, the people of the Snowy Tribe lived in the cave near the river. They were happy because there was almost never anything bad to happen to them. But one day, on the coldest day of the year, a Cybunny was gathering nuts and plants when she saw a strange beast. She became frightened and hid as the monster walked slowly past her, towards her people. She quietly raced around the beast and to her tribe, her white fur hiding her. She warned them that something was coming, something that could kill them all.
“The elders laughed. ‘Foolish girl,’ they said. ‘Go and gather more nuts and stop your stupid tales.’ The Cybunny didn’t listen. She walked out of the cave to where her family was looking for food, like she had been. She told them to follow her, that they would be in danger if they didn’t. Her family listened. They traveled the short distance to the clearing where the sick went to heal. They hid in the burrow where the healer lived, and the family and the healer quietly waited.
“A while later, the pets heard a roar. A group of Babaas pounded overhead the burrow. Two of them fell into the burrow, and they had to shut the Babaas' mouths to keep them from bleating.
“And then there were more noises above the eight pets. Noises of people. People running. The Snow Beast had moved into the cave, and the Cybunny and her family and the healer were the only ones left of the tribe, along with the two Babaas.”
104 and 105 waited patiently at the base of Tree 46. They stared at the entrance to the Snow Beast’s cave. 105 could see a striped Tonu on the opposite side of the cave, at Tree 45. 104 listened to a snuffling noise coming from the cave. And then both of them looked to the side, and watched a red Kyrii and a green Techo walking in the snow with some Babaas at their heels.
104 whispered sadly, “Those poor Babaas. If we save them, I think we should keep them and call one Fleece.”
105 answered, “You can name it Eaten if you don’t be quiet.”
The Chia was silent, then whispered, “They are going a little slow, aren’t they?”
Fire paused. His teacher was smiling at how he had memorized the Legend, but was limping from the long walk. Fire asked, “Are you okay, sir?” although he knew that the answer would not come. Fire walked with the Techo, and soon they reached the entrance to the cave.
105 snuck around the tree. He crept across the snow, around a small hill, and was behind the two Neopets with the Babaas.
“Gotcha,” he murmured to himself.
Fire grabbed a Babaa. The Techo said, “Careful, Fire. The Babaas may wail. Don’t want one of those pesky members from the organization to hear, now do we?”
Fire nodded. The Kyrii took careful aim at the mouth of the cave. Inside, something rumbled softly. Would Snow Beast like the Babaas? Fire wondered as he squinted one eye and tossed the little creature that had started to squirm beneath his fingers.
104 lunged for the Babaa. The Snow Beast purred as it looked out of its cave. Everything seeming to happen in slow motion; the Kyrii that stood a few feet away gasped, the Techo’s eyes widened, and the Babaa screeched. 105 pounced on the two Neopets before him.
“You’re under arrest,” he growled into the Kyrii’s ear as he pinned the two to the ground. 104 managed to block the throw, but was pushed backwards, and fell. A bloodcurdling scream erupted from the cave as the Snow Beast saw its dinner being snatched away like a toy played to long with. 104 shoved a muzzle on the Babaa, and whispered in its ear, “Hello, Fleece.”
Just an ordinary day in the life of a PPL.