Tales of a Petpet Adventure: Part Two
Three days had passed and they were still climbing the treacherous paths of Terror Mountain. Fierce, snow-filled winds blew upon them, and they had to huddle next to each other to keep from being blown away.
Suddenly, though, they all heard squawking and looked to the sky—a cloud of feathery brown Petpets swarmed the heavens, heading straight for them.
“Airax, from Tyrannia,” Blurfle yelled as he pointed towards the swirling mass. “Quick, we’ve got to hide, find shelter!”
Everyone turned back and used the blowing winds to glide over the snowdrifts beneath them. The swarm of gathering Petpets behind them drew nearer, and their bodies grew colder, and the tension grew thicker as Blurfle caught sight of just what might save their day.
“A cave,” he shouted, “aim for the cave!” And so they did: They all turned on their sides and aimed for the cave, and in they went, deep into the darkness within the very mountain itself. Needless to say, the Airax lost interest and flew away.
All was silent, almost too silent, and everyone hesitated to speak. Everyone, that is, except Blurfle. He stood up, took a breath—and was instantly hit on the head with a—
“Hey, what was that thing?”
That thing—which was pink and portly and rather round—stared back at him for a moment and then blinked profusely. “I’m a Snorkle, and you guys are all pretty lucky.”
“I don’t think being hit on the head is pretty lucky,” Blurfle said.
“Well, no, maybe not,” the Snorkle said, “but this is the Snowbeast’s cave, and luckily he’s asleep right now. If you hadn’t broken my fall, he probably would’ve woken up, too.”
“The Snowbeast?” Blurfle said and wriggled his collar.
“The Snowbeast,” Fox said. “I’ve heard of ‘im, didn’t think he was real. He’s a monster, a giant somethin’-or-other that likes to eat Petpets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our owners get paid for feeding ‘im, though, but I didn’t think anyone would be so cruel.”
“Oh, no,” the Snorkle said, “it’s not cruel at all. We’re all imported from Feast for the Beast Farms, a subsidiary of Meri Acres Farmlands, where our motto is ‘We’re bred to be fed.’ It’s all rather humane, actually.”
Fox blinked once, then twice, and twice more before his mouth fell open.
“Well, regardless,” the Snorkle said, “you guys should probably get going, or else you might get eaten, too.”
“Oh, yeah, thanks,” Blurfle said and scratched behind his ear for a moment. “Say, do you have any idea where we can find the giant Snowickle?”
The Snorkle nodded. “Certainly! Just walk two kilometers that way and take the lift to the top. There’s a Candychan up there who knows everything.”
“Thanks!” Blurfle said.
“Aye,” added Fox, “we can’t thank you enough.”
“Well, maybe,” the Snorkle said, “but considering my fate once you’re safely out of the way, I’m not sure if that’s even a possible predicament. Well, anyways, enjoy your trip, guys. Good luck!”
And just as they were leaving the cave, a hand reached through the darkness, growled happily, and the Snorkle was gone.
* * *
Exactly two kilometers that way, they came across a small hut with a tired-looking Skeith inside tirelessly turning a wheel attached to a pulley attached to a thick cable that carried carts up and down the mountain. A short line of Neopets waited for their turn to board, but like all good adventurers, the Petpet Retreaters knew that time was of the essence, and so, when no one was looking, they scurried into a basket and were off.
“That was easy,” Perdy said. “With a line that long, I’d thought it’d take us forever until we got on.”
“Maybe not forever,” Marvin said, “but I was certain we’d be caught.”
“Nonsense,” Fox said. “Weight restrictions require two empty carts to pass before any more Neopets can board, so it was a given we could slip in one o’ the empty ones unnoticed.”
“Well, whatever that means,” Blurfle said, “isn’t the view great?”
“Oh, yes,” Perdy said, “it’s beautiful.” She paused and sighed, batting her eyelashes dreamily “Oh, hey—look, you can even see the Advent Calendar! Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Speak for yourselves,” Marvin droned on. “You’re the ones with wings.”
* * *
The air was crisp and cool when they hopped out of the basket some minutes later and landed on a bed of softly-fallen, freshly-laden snow that crunched under their tiny feet. Perdy was the first to be dazed by the snow, quickly followed by Blurfle, Fox’s brother, Haunt, and even Marvin.
Fox was the only one who kept a level head. “Come on,” he grumbled, “we’ve got to find that Candychan before we’re spotted.”
Blurfle quickly snapped out of it. “Yeah, guys, we’ve got to go!” He thrust his paw forward once again, and everyone followed his direction and scurried off behind the lift station.
“Now,” Blurfle said as he peeked around the corner at the rest of the summit’s attractions, “if I were a Candychan, where would I hide?”
Perdy walked up beside him. “Maybe in the igloo?”
“It’s a start,” he said.
But, unfortunately, it was not a finish, and they had to go to four different locations before they finally found the Candychan sleeping in the frozen boughs of an icicle tree.
“How are we supposed to wake it?” Blurfle said.
Perdy shrugged. “Whatever we do, we should try to wake it kindly.”
Marvin scoffed. “After all this, just to get here and still die by the hands of Sloth.”
“Muhahahahahahaha!” Haunt leapt up and up, wailing even louder. “Muhahahahahahaha!”
And the Candychan stirred and fell out of the tree. Around it, a perfect imprint of its body lay in the snow.
Slowly, the Candychan lifted itself and shook the snow off. “Well, you know,” he said, “you could’ve just rung the bell.” He pointed to his right, where a bundle of jingle bells hung on a low branch next to a sign reading, “Ring for service.”
“Oh, um... I’m sorry,” Blurfle said, “I didn’t see it.”
“Obviously.” The Candychan sighed, then blinked away his tiredness and continued. “Anyways, what’d you want me for that you had to wake me up so uncouthly?”
“Um, well, er,” Blurfle said, but Fox quickly pushed him aside.
“We want to find the giant Snowickle.”
The Candychan’s eyes widened. “The giant Snowickle, you say? Well, erm, no.”
“Then I guess you’ve heard of ‘im, eh?” Fox said with a grin. “We hear he’s guardin’ some treasure, and we want it.”
“No, no, not at all,” the Candychan said, raising his hands and backing away. “I can do a lot of things for you, but that is just one thing I refuse to do. Got it?”
“But, mister, please,” Blurfle said, rushing up to him. “We’ve spent days getting here, all in search of an adventure. The world may end any day—and we don’t want to give Sloth the last laugh!”
The Candychan slapped his fist into his palm. “Would you shut that thing up already?”
Blurfle grinned. “If we shut him up, will you help us?”
The Candychan snarled, growling just under his breath.
Blurfle whispered, “Sloth.”
“Fine, I’ll do it!” The Candychan seethed for a moment, then turned around and pointed into the distance. “Head four kilometers due south, go over the cliff, and there you’ll have him.”
Marvin swallowed uneasily. “The back door or the front?”
“Oh, the back door or the front, you say?” The Candychan snarled again, whirling on the Snoogy. “Well, if I wanted to lead you to him safely, I’d have to join you, but I. am. not. doing. that! Y’hear me?!”
Blurfle sniffled a bit and beaded his eyes. “But, please, mister, it’s all we could ask for. You don’t want to spend your last days lying idly up here until the world ends, do you? Don’t you want to live a little, have some adventure before you die?”
The Candychan crossed his arms, pursing his lips and narrowing his eyes. “Well, I doubt us Petpets would die, considering he’s already got the Meepits on his side (I don’t buy that ‘lazy-eye’ dung for one bit!), but I guess anything’s better than slaving away under some megalomaniac’s imperialism, so, sure, I’ll help you. Gotta be better than succumbing to Sloth, right?”
“Shut it, Wain!” Perdy spat.
“So,” the Candychan said, “got any extra provisions for me? My supply’s kinda running low...”
“Yeah,” Blurfle said, swinging off his bag, “I’ve got some I can share.”
“Great, great,” the Candychan said and nodded some more. “So, who are all of you?”
Blurfle blushed a bit before standing back up. “Oh, yeah, I’m sorry.” He began pointing to everyone in turn. “That’s Perdy, and Marvin, Haunt, and Fox, and that Pile of Soot is... er, uh, his brother.” He whirled back around to face the Candychan and held out an open paw. “And I’m Blurfle.”
“Blurfle?” The Candychan snorted. “Anyways,” he took a breath and shook Blurfle’s hand with a grip that could shatter stone, “I’m Roxton A. Colchester IV. Call me Chester. Adventurer. If there’s an inch of Neopia that I’ve not explored, then I’ll be there.”
Blurfle beamed. “Are you related to Roxton A. Colchester III?”
“Yep,” the Candychan proudly said and hit his thumb to his chest, “he’s a third cousin on my mother’s side, once removed.” He rubbed his paws together. “So, shall we get going or not?”
* * *
Blurfle followed Chester as he crawled through a narrow hole at the end of the ice cavern that he’d taken them through, and then stood up in awe of the massive, sleeping Snowickle before them. Blurfle’s eyes widened and sparkled: the horde was amazing, full of Neggs and weapons and toys the likes of which the little Faellie could never imagine or even possibly conceive. The treasure, the fame, the fortune—such magnificence!
“Are we sure it’s sleeping?” Marvin asked.
“Yep,” Chester said, “wouldn’t doubt it for my life.”
“And it really is a giant Snowickle?” Perdy pondered.
“Of course! Why else would I bring you guys here?” Chester flashed her a thumbs up and a geeky, overconfident smile.
“Wow, that’s... that’s amazing,” Perdy said and stared on entranced.
“Well,” Fox said, “I didn’t come ‘ere just to look at ‘im—I want some of his treasure to to boot!” He set down his red bucket—the Pile of Soot inside whimpered unceremoniously—and the Doglefox dashed off towards the piles of riches, pulling Neopoints and Neggs and anything else small enough to fit inside his pack and stuffing them away for the trip home.
Blurfle, meanwhile, was walking up to the Snowickle. “It’s simply inconceivable,” he whispered, “that a Petpet could grow so large.” He reached out his hand and set it gently on the surface of the Snowickle; its skin was colder than ice and smoother than anything he’d ever felt before.
Chester walked up to him and set his hand on the Faellie’s shoulder. “Thanks for convincing me to do this, Blurfle. It’s definitely better than waiting for Sloth to—”
“Muhahahahahahaha!” The shrill cry echoed around the chamber, amplified and magnified more times than could be counted in the time it took for Blurfle to feel the beast beneath his hand trembling and beginning to churn.
In a heartbeat, he was huddled with the others as the chamber was filled with a low grinding noise that echoed around them, shaking them through to their bones. Slowly the Snowickle uncoiled itself and raised its sleek and slender, sharpened head over them. It breathed out a breath of frigid air and opened its mouth to—
Too late. Everyone had sprinted away from the beast, back through the slender hole in the icy wall and all the way back to the summit of Terror Mountain by the icicle tree.
“I’m ready to go home,” Perdy said, and she took a breath, looking petrified.
“I’m surprised we weren’t eaten,” Marvin said, “but I guess worse could still happen.”
“I will never, ever do that again,” Chester said, gasping for breath.
Blurfle was silent, and everyone turned to face Fox. His eyes were wide and he was feeling up and down his body in a mad panic. Suddenly, he stood stark-still and the color flashed from his fur.
“M’ brother’s still in there.”
* * *
Blurfle slid back through the small hole and stood up as Chester and Fox joined him on either side. He trembled and shook, shivered and heaved for every new breath, but he pushed on bravely into the silent chamber: Luckily, the Snowickle had returned to slumber in the little time since they’d left it be.
“Over there,” he whispered and pointed. Chester and Fox turned to look, and all of them nodded.
“If we go quietly,” Chester said, “we should be able to grab him and get out before the Snowickle wakes up again.”
“Got it,” Fox said. “I’ll go grab ‘im; he’s my brother, after all.”
“No,” Blurfle hissed, “we do this together.” He took a breath and, holding it safely inside him, began tip-toeing towards the little red bucket and the Pile of Soot inside it, the Doglefox and Candychan at his sides following silently in suit.
Blurfle slowly exhaled and inhaled once more, then for a third and a fourth time before they finally made it across the slippery expanse and up to Fox’s brother.
The Doglefox swooped up the bucket and cradled it in his arms, embracing it in a warm hug. “I’m so sorry I forget ye, brother, I never meant to, I—”
They turned around and stopped dead in their tracks, facing as much of the Snowickle as they’d seen before: The beast had uncoiled itself and then recoiled itself around them, trapping them in a massive ring of its huge, icy, frozen body.
“What do we do now?” Blurfle whispered to Chester.
“Why’re you askin’ me? I’m just the tour guide!”
“Tour guide?” Fox said dryly. “I thought you were an adventurer.”
“No, oh, erm, was my introduction misleading?” Chester laughed nervously.
“Well, whatever we do,” Blurfle said, his voice cracking, “we should probably do it soon—I think he wants to eats us.”
The Snowickle had dropped its head in front of them, but meters away now, and its eyes shone with greed and longing. It opened its mouth, cold drool dripping from its chops, and its tongue drew closer to them.
“Think he’s a vegetarian?” Chester said.
“Not a chance,” Fox answered.
The Candychan sniffled. “I’m too young to die!”
“Goodbye cruel world,” Blurfle wailed, “thy cruelty hast forsakest me!”
But then they all felt something warm, wet, and slobbery on their faces and chose to open their eyes instead: The Snowickle was smiling and licking them rather affectionately.
“Hey, go figure,” Fox said. “It’s fond of Petpets.”
“Yeah,” Chester said slowly, “so it is.”
Blurfle smiled and laughed. “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all!” He took a breath and calmed his laughter. “But, er, Mr. Giant Snowickle Sir, we really do have to leave now. Our friends probably think you’ve eaten us already.”
The Snowickle withdrew and seemed to pout at them, but nevertheless, it turned away and lay itself back down over its mountains of treasures to sleep once again. And then, quite quickly, the Petpets dashed off through the hole in the wall and back to the open air of the freedom outside.
* * *
“So, I guess this is goodbye?” Blurfle said to Chester, once again beneath the icicle tree.
“Well, actually...” The Candychan laughed and scratched the back of his head. “I had a lot fun on our adventure, and I was thinking, well, maybe I do gotta get out more, do some more traveling, and well—”
“Get on with it, kid,” Fox said.
“Well, uh,” Chester said and scratched his head again, “I was kinda wondering if I could go back with you guys?”
Blurfle looked at the rest of the team and then back at Chester, holding out his hand. “Then welcome to the Petpet Retreat, Roxton A. Colchester IV! Now you’re one of us, too.”
The Candychan smiled and grinned and shook Blurfle’s hand and their ride back to Happy Valley went without flaw and their trek across the plains was even more joyous now than when they had crossed it the first time. And although the end seemed fitting, it wasn’t over yet.
* * *
Blurfle approached the fire and took a seat with the rest of the Petpets gathered there, including but not limited to Perdy, Marvin, Chester, and all the others who had joined their adventure to the top of Terror Mountain and beyond.
“So, Blurfle,” Perdy said, “did you hear the news?”
The Faellie shook his head. “No, I didn’t... Is it why we’re all celebrating?”
“Absolutely,” Chester said and jumped up excitedly. “The Resistance finally beat Sloth!”
“Muhahahahahahaha!” the Wain wailed and this time, everybody laughed.
The End ...or is it?
Want more of the Petpet Retreaters? Check out my first publication, Tales of a Petpet Campfire.