Xavier's Quest: Part Five
“This is Cellantha,” Xavier introduced the Blumaroo to Sarasan.
“Ahhh,” the Tuskaninny said in a knowing way. “That’s what took you so long.” He passed the Faerie Queen Negg back and forth between his hands, turning it and twisting it, studying every detail and making the light play in funny ways over its surface. He was smiling, grinning.
“It’s not that!” Xavier protested. “I just ran into her and she helped me out of a jam.”
“We visited--” she started. Xavier elbowed her to keep her quiet. Sarasan couldn’t know that they’d visited the Snowager. “The Neggery,” she concluded. “Why’d you send Xavier to get the Faerie Queen Negg?”
Sarasan explained again how he’d been banned from the Neggery.
“Oh,” Cellantha replied. “Well, did you ever think of talking to the Negg Faerie about it? Maybe you two can work things out. I hear she likes people who collect neggs more than people who eat them or resell them for profit. She might start to see things your way and, you never know. She might give you a good deal on your hoard, or a discount on a negg you need.”
“She’s a faerie; she wouldn’t do something nice like that, Miss Blumaroo.”
“She’s a faerie,” the Blumaroo retorted. “Of course she would. You just have to talk to her.”
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. She’s really nice when people aren’t trying to rip her off. You should get to know her a bit better. Besides, everyone does nice things for their friends. Her perfect memory isn’t stubborn enough to cling to bad first impressions when a great second one is standing right in front of her.” The Blumaroo winked.
“Sarasan,” Xavier asked, “is there any trick to getting to Happy Valley?”
“You really need to get going, Mr. Bruce? You don’t want to hang out up here with us?”
“I have... business.”
“Selling something for those little gold points of yours, eh? Whatever happened to those tokens, by the way?”
“Saving them,” Xavier lied. He cringed inside. “Yeah. I have something to sell.”
“Something special?” Cellantha asked.
“You should tell us what it is,” Sarasan insisted.
Xavier stuck his hand in his purse and pulled out the little piece of paper. Cellantha and Sarasan both examined it.
“Taelia’s signature!” they both exclaimed.
Cellantha snatched the parchment from him and studied it closer. “But you can’t sell this! Think of how much it’s worth! It’s priceless. You could hang it on your wall and everyone who comes to your house will be awestruck!”
“Or you could hang it in your shop and Neopians would come from far and wide to see it and they’d spend little gold points on your other items and you’d make more money faster than you would if you didn’t hang it in your shop. It’s not all about those coins, you know.”
Xavier took the paper back from Cellantha and looked down at it. Suddenly he remembered the image he’d had of Terror Mountain in Celebrating and what Terror Mountain really looked like. He stared down at Taelia’s order for strings of lights to brighten things up. “I have a quest to finish,” he announced.
“Taelia wanted lights from the Advent Calendar for Terror Mountain. That’s what the paper’s for.”
“Well, you’d better do it, Mr. Bruce. She gives out neat prizes, and those gold things. Even if you don’t do it for those, do it to avoid her scorn.”
Xavier nodded. He started walking away toward Happy Valley. Sarasan and Cellantha followed him. “What are you guys doing?”
“Going with you,” the Tuskaninny answered.
Xavier smiled. He walked out of the Ice Caves toward the shops of Happy Valley. The pass was clear and the way was easy. Xavier took his time waddling toward the Advent Calendar.
“You know, I haven’t collected prizes from the Advent Calendar in years,” Sarasan rambled. “It’ll be fun.”
“They gave out a Rod of Ultranova yesterday, but the Pant Devil popped up and stole it from me,” Cellantha added. “If it hadn’t been so amusing, I might have been upset.”
“Wait. Rod of Ultranova?” Xavier asked.
“Not really. It’s a joke. They’ve done it forever. The Pant Devil’s idea of Celebrating spirit. There might be something good, you never know, but there’s nothing that good, Mr. Bruce.”
“I should stop, shouldn’t I?” Xavier asked. “I have plenty of neopoints.”
“If you have food and warm, you don’t need them,” the Tuskaninny affirmed. Cellantha just giggled.
Xavier walked up to the Advent Calendar with his note. He knocked on the door and a Aisha appeared. “The Snow Faerie sent me down to get some lights.” He handed over the note. The Aisha examined it and disappeared back into the building, closing the door behind him. Xavier could hear him shuffling around, knocking over boxes and tripping over whatever had fallen out of them. He waited in the snow for a good five minutes before the Aisha reappeared and handed him a box about half his size with Taelia‘s note stuck to the top.
“Two dozen strings of lights, as requested, and your daily Advent Calendar prizes are in the box too, as long as you promise not to open it until you get back up to Taelia’s.”
“Okay,” the Bruce agreed, curious as to what the Aisha had put in the box.
Cellantha and Sarasan collected their Advent Calendar prizes, Chocolate Jhudora and Christmas Vira Plushie.
“Sarasan, will you help me get back up to Terror Mountain?”
“Sure thing, Mr. Bruce.” He juggled the Faerie Queen Negg and his two newest items. He didn’t even take the time to put the items in his secret cave, but started straight up the pass. Cellantha went with them, but only as far as the Ice Caves.
“It’s been fun,” she said, “but I have to get back to work.”
“Well, Miss Blumaroo, it was nice meeting you. Maybe we’ll run into each other again. I can’t imagine not noticing you in a crowd.”
Cellantha beamed. She wandered off into the Ice Caves, and Xavier had the strange suspicion that she was going back to visit the Snowager again. He whistled a low, soft whistle, wishing she wouldn’t do it. He started after her for a few minutes and started up the pass to Terror Mountain. “It should be clear now, right?”
“You know, you can’t slide down a tunnel that’s going up, Mr. Bruce,” Sarasan explained. “The Space Station smart people call it gravity, but it’s true anyway.”
“I know, I know. I was hoping the pass would be clear by now.”
“I mean, it’s getting late. It’s not going to get any warmer than this today, so if the pass snow is going to melt, it would have done it already. Otherwise we’ll have to go back up the long way, and I really just want to get this done.” Xavier was starting to struggle under the weight of the box and he had to toss the weight from hand to hand to keep from dropping it. He huffed, but decided he would be able to make it to the top of Terror Mountain.
An instant after he decided this, the something in the box wiggled and it fell from his grasp to a cushioned fall in the snow. The lid stayed shut tight, though, and Xavier had no reason to peek early at the gift the Advent Aisha had left him. He hefted the box up, balanced it on his shoulder, and followed Sarasan up the pass.
The snow was still deep, though not as deep as it had been (Xavier could see the rock walls of the pass this time through), and the melting snow had firmed up the snow underneath so the Bruce didn’t sink in every time he took a step. Sarasan raced up the mountain as fast as his Tuskaninny tail could take him and he retraced his steps every few minutes to make sure Xavier didn’t need any help.
“You know, Mr. Bruce,” he said on one return, “I feel like a sort of honor guard, guarding your way up to Terror Mountain as you bear the festivities of Celebrating.”
Xavier laughed and he almost dropped the box again.
“Wanna trade?” Sarasan asked.
“No, I’ll carry it.” It is my quest, after all. It wouldn’t be fair if I let someone else do the work for me, he thought.
“You don’t want to carry the Fyora Negg or the Christmas Vira Plushie or the Chocolate Jhudora instead? You’d rather carry a boring box?’
“Yes,” the Bruce answered.
“Suit yourself.” Sarasan shot off again up the mountain. He returned a few minutes later. “I can carry that box better than you can. You sure you don’t want to trade, just ‘til we get up the mountain?”
“Well, now that you’ve mentioned it’s temporary....” Xavier smiled, “no.”
Sarasan laughed. “See. It’s so much more fun when you don’t worry about how much things are worth or how many of those little gold pieces you have in the bank, isn’t it?”
Xavier nodded. “I guess. But this doesn’t mean I’m not going to stop earning neopoints! I need ‘food and warm’ too, and where I’m from, you have to pay for those things with the little gold pieces you have in the bank!”
“Suit yourself, Mr. Bruce.”
“Well, I mean, you could just leave it all and come live with me up here, if you wanted. There’s plenty of space.”
“Uh, no. I’d much rather live in Neopia Central where it’s nice and warm sometimes without me having to work for it. They call it summer down there, and it’s really nice. Besides, my home is there, and my little shop, and there’s no bank up here....”
“Well,” the Tuskaninny said, “it’s a start, I suppose.”
Xavier rounded the bend and emerged on the peak of Terror Mountain. He retraced his footsteps to the front of Taelia’s igloo and knocked on the door. He dropped the box as she peeked through her window.
“You brought them!” she exclaimed, throwing open the door to her igloo and stepping outside. The Snow Faerie knelt by the box and carefully lifted up the lid a few centimeters. Peering in, she smiled and opened the lid the rest of the way. Something hopped out.
Xavier jumped back. The thing landed in the snow and vanished. “What was that?” he asked Taelia.
“You’ll have to be careful with him up here. They get lost in the snow so easily.” She reached out toward what the Bruce thought was a patch of snow and scooped something up. When Xavier realized what it was, his mouth dropped.
“This little guy was left over from a few years ago and no one wanted him, poor thing. I expect that you’ll take care of him, seeing as you spent all the effort to bring me these lights. Consider him my thanks.” The Snow Faerie handed the wriggling ball to Xavier and disappeared into her igloo with the box of lights, the order with her signature on it still attached to the top.
“You’re not going to sell him, are you?” Sarasan asked.
Xavier scratched the Snowbunny behind the ears. “Absolutely not!”