The Perils of a New Brother: Part Three
Jaeger hopped off the sky ship into the snow of Happy Valley. He breathed in the brisk winter air and surveyed his surroundings. He carried a blanket with a few items in it wrapped at the end of a stick over his shoulder. Kar the Quetzal slithered down Jaeger’s body and into the white powder, snaking his way through the snow with apparent ease. Jaeger’s only clue was “Ice Caves”.
How hard could it be to find a kidnapped Kougra cub in the Ice Caves?
‘Really hard,’ Jaeger thought. The Lupe shook the thought from his head. He was going to find Seth, one way or another. He had to.
Jaeger and Kar made their way through Happy Valley, not sharing the same joy as everyone in the area seemed to have. The green Lupe’s face was bent with determination to find his little brother. He came to a stop at the entrance of the Ice Caves. The cavern glistened and shone, but it was full of neopets. How smart could a kidnapper be to waltz through such a crowded area? They must have gone to a more remote ice cave, one that would be hard to find. Unfortunately, the Ice Caves were a vast area, full of winding tunnels. One could easily get lost without an experienced guide.
Jaeger looked down at his petpet, but Kar was slithering away at high speed. He jogged after the Quetzal in surprise.
“Kar? Kar, come back here!” Jaeger called out, but Kar wasn’t stopping for anything. He continued to pursue his petpet, growing more irritated by the second, until the two of them were well away from the main entrance to the Ice Caves.
“Kar, what’s wrong with you? This is no time for games!” The Lupe kneeled in the snow, panting from his running.
The Quetzal ignored his master and planted his feathered head into the snow. Jaeger watched, bewildered, as his petpet disappeared beneath the powder.
“What in Neopia?” the Lupe muttered, waiting for Kar to pop back up again. After several seconds, his Quetzal was still nowhere to be seen. Jaeger immediately dropped his stick and blanket and began digging into the snow with his hands. As he got a little ways down, he found Kar inside a hefty sack that was completely covered with snow.
“What are you doing in...” Jaeger was cut off as he saw a shivering, unconscious Juma inside the bag. He immediately pulled the Juma out and cradled her in his arms, trying to warm her up.
“Taze? Oh no, you poor little thing.” Jaeger rubbed the petpet’s very soft coat, trying to get her to wake up. The Shenkuu petpet’s eyes began to flicker open. As she looked up at Jaeger, she reached out her head weakly and licked the Lupe on the arm with a freezing cold pink tongue. Jaeger melted to see the little Juma’s sign of gratitude.
“I can’t believe I was ever angry at you,” Jaeger mumbled. “I’m regretting a lot of things lately.” Getting his mind back on track, Jaeger searched for any sign of Seth. If Taze was still here, it meant that Seth must have been here at some point.
Jaeger stood up, still holding the Juma in his arms. Far up ahead, there was an entrance to a cave. Coming out from the cave were some barely visible footprints. If he was to have any chance at finding Seth, this was it. He picked up his stick and blanket and threw it over his shoulder. With a little whistle to Kar, the Lupe was off.
He hiked, with petpets in tow, up the face of the snowy mountain. As he got higher, it became increasingly chilly, and the wind picked up. Snow was blowing into his face, and he was losing all sight of the faint tracks he had seen earlier. Jaeger was now just blindly climbing the mountain, hoping that he was heading in the right direction but not having any hint or clue whether he was or not. After a little while, it became disheartening. What if he had passed a turn that they made? What if all his painful hiking was futile?
Jaeger dropped to his knees in the snow, ramming his hands into his face. He mumbled some barely intelligible words about how Seth’s kidnapping was his fault, and how he couldn’t track down anything, and that his new brother was going to die believing that his older brother didn’t care about him.
Slowly he lowered his hands from his face and looked at the ground. Two white paws were settled in the snow directly in front of him. His eyes moved up the body that the paws were attached to, and as he got to its face, he realized that it was a majestic-looking Lupe with thick, snow white fur.
“W-who are you?” Jaeger stammered, in shock at how silently this white Lupe came up to him.
“My name is Amille, of the Snowblaze Pack.” The Lupe looked down at him through piercing, yet patient, golden eyes.
“Snowblaze Pack? You mean, you’re one of those Lupes that lives in a pack?” Jaeger asked, still on his knees in the snow.
“Where everyone walks around on four legs?”
Amille nodded again.
“And you live wild?”
“Yes, that’s the general idea,” Amille said, growing a little impatient with Jaeger’s questions. “Now, why are you out here?”
Jaeger lowered his gaze to the ground and replied in a low voice. “My little brother was kidnapped. All I know is that he was taken somewhere on Terror Mountain, but I lost their trail, and now I don’t know if I’ll ever find him in time...” Jaeger’s voice trailed off, and he distorted his face into a frown to keep himself from crying. Clearing his throat, he looked up at Amille. “He’s a little red Kougra cub. Walks on all fours, usually he can’t shut up -- have you seen him?”
Amille kept his intent gaze on Jaeger as he thoughtfully prepared to answer. “I did see a rather strange commotion a few hours ago. Three neopets, dragging a Kougra around on a leash, and they were attacked by a snowbeast.”
Jaeger’s expression instantly brightened. His large eyes expanded eagerly. “Well? What happened?”
“They fought the beast off, but it broke a weapon of theirs, and they seemed rather upset about it.” The regal white Lupe seemed to know more than he was saying. Somehow Jaeger sensed that Amille was more than just a coincidental observer.
“So is there anything else you can tell me? Which way did they go?” Jaeger asked, trying to remain calm.
Amille looked down at Jaeger cautiously, as if he was trying evaluate the green Lupe. Eventually, he responded. “If you want to find this brother of yours, you’re going to need to find yourself. Follow your instincts. Only if you trust yourself will you be able to save your brother.”
“Okaaaay...” Jaeger said flippantly, still wanting to get some decent information from Amille. “But can you point out the way or something?”
A distant howl was heard, causing Amille’s head to jerk in that direction instantly.
“I must go. But remember what I said.” In a flash, Amille disappeared into the whiteness of the mountain’s weather.
“Amille! Wait! But I...” Jaeger swiped a hand through the powder angrily. He was no closer to finding Seth than he was before Amille mysteriously showed up.
Kar slithered through the snow up to his master, and wrapped his Quetzal body around the Lupe for warmth. Kar extended his feathered head forward, using his forked tongue to test out the brisk winter air and get a better smell. The Quetzal’s small gesture made Jaeger realize what he had to do. Jaeger held up his hand to examine it, and slowly pressed his fingers together to turn his hand into a paw. Doing the same with his other hand, he placed all four paws on the ground and raised his muzzle skyward to take in a whiff of air, trying his best to abandon his former self and trust his instincts.
It was faint, but he sensed it -- Seth had been close to here. Taking in another breath, Jaeger could point out the direction that they had gone. Picking his stick and blanket up in his teeth, Jaeger bounded forward on four legs through the snow, pursuing the faint scent up the mountain with a Quetzal on his shoulders and a Juma following in his tracks.
The weather became more and more uncooperative as he reached higher elevations, and soon he was no longer following a scent at all. But now Jaeger had a clue to help him find them. If he could just reach the peak of Terror Mountain, he had an idea of how to locate the villains -- and his brother along with them.
A blue patch of sky appeared through the clouds, although large snowflakes still swirled about through the air. Jaeger had made it to Terror Mountain’s peak. Standing on four solid legs, with a stick firmly in his jaws and the winter wind mussing up his thick green fur, Jaeger looked like he had lived in a Lupe pack all his life. He stood up on two legs once again, and walked determinedly to Donny’s Toy Repair Shop, where he sensed he could find some answers.
Jaeger burst through the wooden door of the small building to find the old red Bori hammering away on a small toy. Donny looked up from his work with his bushy eyebrows bent in a frown.
“Whut’ll it be, young’un? I’m a tad busy at the moment, ya see.” For someone who worked with toys, he was a rather serious fellow.
“Cards on the table, Donny,” Jaeger demanded, walking up to Donny’s table and slamming his hands down on it.
“Now what’s the big idea?” the Bori bellowed. “I ‘ave no idea what yer talkin’ about!”
“You know what I’m talking about. From what I hear, you’ve been fixing something other than just toys. I’m from the Defenders of Neopia, and my backup will be here shortly to take you away,” Jaeger bluffed convincingly, hoping to get Donny to reveal everything he knew.
“Now look ‘ere, smart alec, you couldn’t get me to leave this shop o’ mine if you had sixty Unis to pull me away!” Donny placed his hands on his hips and stomped a heavily clawed foot on the floor.
Jaeger’s tactic wasn’t exactly working; Donny was too stubborn to stay on the topic he was hoping for. The Lupe switched to Plan B. Jaeger grabbed the Bori by his shirt and pulled him in close to his face.
“I know you’ve been fixing weapons, Donny, now spill it!” Jaeger ordered aggressively.
“Alright, alright!” Donny said in a growly voice, pushing the Lupe away from him. “But ya near ripped my shirt, and if ya had, I’d a’been real ticked off.” The Bori straightened his shirt to gain his composure before continuing. “A mutant Lenny came in here with a Shenkuu weapon, an enchanted pudao, t’was snapped right in two. I told ‘im I don’t fix weapons, but he offered me 10,000 NP to do it, and so I did. I ‘ad it fixed in just over an hour, then he came, took it, and left again. Nuthin’ more to it.”
“You say a mutant Lenny?” Jaeger inquired.
“Yeah, big, ugly fellow with a headband... can’t seem t’ remember much else about ‘im, though.”
“Do you know where he was headed?”
“Haven’t the faintest idea. And why are ya so interested? I thought you were plannin’ on arresting me.” Donny raised one shaggy eyebrow in suspicion.
“I wasn’t completely honest with you,” Jaeger admitted quickly. “I’m not from the Defenders of Neopia. I’m trying to find my little brother who was kidnapped by this mutant Lenny you’re talking about.”
“Well, why didn’t ya say that sooner? I might’ve actually been willing t’ help.” Donny uttered.
“Oh...” Jaeger scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. “I guess I just wanted to get rough with someone. Sorry.” He turned to walk out the door, but Donny stopped him.
“Kid, there’s sumthin’ else... this piece of paper fell from the Lenny’s pocket when he left.” Donny handed Jaeger a small, crumpled piece of paper. It read,
Once again you have disappointed me by failing to meet me at the correct time. Be in the outskirts of Happy Valley by 6:30 NST or I will terminate our business together.
“Tough boss,” Jaeger muttered to himself. He folded the note and stuck it in his pants pocket before turning back to Donny. “Thanks a lot, man. You’ve been really cool through all this.”
Donny gave Jaeger sort of a stiff half smile and a nod, then Jaeger ran out of the building. He had to get to Happy Valley quickly, before Seth’s kidnappers did something bad to him. After their reunion with the boss, Niro, they wouldn’t want Seth around for any longer, and Jaeger didn’t know what sort of method they had planned to get rid of his little brother.
With Kar and Taze in tow, Jaeger looked over the edge of the mountain. The sky was clearing, making visibility much better. But then Jaeger saw something far in the distance. It was three adult neopets and what looked to be something red and small with them. Instincts were flaring wildly in Jaeger’s mind -- it was Seth and his kidnappers.
To be continued...