A burst of snow and ice fell upon the young snicklebeast, who squealed with surprise and dove for cover behind a frosted rock. “Stop! I give, I give!”
The flurry of white diminished and two translucent blue claws appeared upon the rock, scrambling to stop from falling. A snowickle wagged its tail cheerfully and eyed the furry petpet below with bright eyes. “You are no match for the mighty Snowager!” he rumbled triumphantly.
The snicklebeast grinned and stepped out, eyeing the happy petpet above with a mischievous air. Just as the snowickle was about to scream out his victory once again, a ball of snow bashed into his head and sent him sprawling into the cold, white carpet below.
“That’s cheating,” squealed a snuffly with surprise, waddling over to help the snowickle to his stubby feet.
When the little snowickle rose and brushed off the snow from his face, the threesome burst into peals of laughter at their silly antics. They had been playing Snowager for a while now, bemusing themselves by throwing snow and icicles at each other. The game was fun, of course, but like most other games, it all too quickly grew tiresome.
“Roro, what should we do now? I’d rather not get pelted with snow for a while,” the snicklebeast mumbled.
The snowickle paused and then raised his head to a piercing roar. The cavern vibrated ominously, and as they looked down towards the open field of the Ice Caves, they spotted the Snowager appearing from his sinister home and breathing out a frosty tide unto a small figure that seemed to be running away. Instantly, Roro hit upon a plan.
“Hey, why don’t we play Snowager, for real?”
His two friends glanced at him as if he were quite mad. “How can we do that?” they said in unison.
“Quite simply. We can make a huge pile of stuff, and then we will pretend that I am the Snowager, and you two are trying to steal the stuff from me!”
“You’re always the Snowager,” complained the snicklebeast.
“But that’s because I look like him, Khen.” Roro smiled.
Khen seemed displeased, but then grinned. “All right, but when it's my turn, I will pretend to be the snowbeast! Fugue, what do you want to be?”
The snuffly cocked his head to one side in thought. “I don’t know. I will be my own beast... a Snufflybeast!”
The three friends laughed merrily at their decision, and quickly began to scout out for a cave that they could use. The Ice Caves were huge and had many nooks and crannies, but Roro didn’t like any of them. It was a while before they would a suitable den with icicles hanging from the roof, giving the room a foreboding appearance. It was big enough to hold them together with much room to spare, and much to their delight, it even resembled the Snowager’s dark abode to an uncanny level.
But still their work was incomplete. At first, Fugue recommended that they used junk that tourists left behind (the Ice Caves were pretty popular for some reason) as treasure, but Khen and Roro disagreed vehemently. They both agreed that the idea of junk would be quite silly, and that they needed real treasure.
“I think we need the stuff that the Snowager has,” Roro stated.
“Then go get his stuff,” retorted Khen.
“I’m not going there!” growled the snowickle, flicking his tail warningly.
It seemed that the two petpets were going to fight, but Fugue wisely decided to intervene before their plans were left to the snow. “I think what Roro means is that we need to get stuff that is similar to what the Snowager has. Like neggs!”
“But where can we get them?” the snicklebeast queried.
Roro paused and gave the idea a bit of consideration. Neggs, why not? It would be perfect – sitting upon a vast mountain of round, wondrous globes, smiling fiercely down at his victims as they tried to take away his priceless treasures without success. And he knew exactly where to get the things that they sought.
“The Neggery! We can steal the neggs from there!” Roro smiled proudly at his idea; it was perfect!
Yet his friends were not so eager. “The Neggery? That Negg Faerie would be awfully upset if we did that.” Fugue’s eyes darkened.
“But she won’t notice! We would just take the neggs when she won’t be looking, and when we are done, we will just give them back. No harm, no foul!”
Khen and Fugue exchanged uncomfortable glances, much to Roro’s displeasure, but in the end they agreed and made their way to the Neggery, which was located conveniently nearby. Roro had never really seen the Neggery up close before, and he was awed. It was a big structure shaped like a decorated green negg. It had a few small windows, and a single door. It seemed quite impenetrable, but when two blue Bori exited with a few neggs in their claws, the snowickle realized how he could enter.
With a hushed whisper to his comrades, the little petpet began to walk towards the door carefully, gritting his teeth as his feet squished the snow. It seemed so loud, he thought the incoming pets would hear and see them. With a sigh of relief, he watched as a faerie Ixi opened the door, ignoring them totally. With a quick jerk, Roro rushed inside, with Khen and Fugue following nearby.
The Neggery was big on the outside, but it seemed even bigger on the inside. Shelves were filled to the brim with rare neggs, and boxes were scattered everywhere. The room itself made the snowickle feel claustrophobic, as pets were walking around, examining the wares and arguing to each other about the relative merits of each.
Roro didn’t care much for those, but he was quickly setting his sights upon the more rare and more expensive neggs in the facility. There was a kaleidonegg over there, and a wicked negg cackling nearby. A pack of ferocious neggs were barking loudly and snarling behind an iron cage in the corner of the Neggery, and a faerie queen negg was nestled in a place of honor near the front.
Suddenly, his eyes gleamed and the young snowickle pointed towards a wondrous fish negg that the faerie had and beaconed for the others to follow him and get it. The two petpets seemed uncomfortable, but did as asked when Roro reminded them that they would return the neggs when they were done playing. Soon, they had a nice, full crate of neggs and were making their way towards the front door, when they spotted the Negg Faerie leading the faerie Ixi to another room.
“Now is our chance!” Roro whispered, his voice hoarse with excitement.
As one, the three petpets rushed out with their crate into the cold air of the Ice Caves, and towards their little grotto that they decided would serve as the Snowager’s Den.
“Success!” Roro swished his tail with glee.
They quickly began to set up their game. The neggs were taken out of the crate (which was then hidden) and piled into a pyramid near the center of their space. Roro quickly rushed upon in and attempted to wrap himself around the orbs like the Snowager did, but when that failed, he decided to just sit upon it instead, and pretend to sleep.
He could too easily hear his comrades’ footsteps as they sneaked up to his pile, ready to grasp one of the neggs. When the pyramid shifted to the right, Roro jumped up with a nasty grin and roared. His roar was but a squeak compared to the Snowager’s scream, but the cavern seemed to help him and his voice echoed eerily, giving it an ethereal quality.
Fugue, the culprit, started with surprise and then began to run away, laughing, with a happiness negg in paw. Roro scrambled off the neggs, tore towards the snuffly, and catapulted into his little form, sending snow here and there. With feverish haste did he snap up the negg with his jaws and returned back to the treasure, gathering up the fallen globes and setting them back into position with a smug little grin before settling atop them once more.
“Your turn, Khen!” Roro panted with the effort.
Khen glanced uncomfortably at Fugue, who was busy cleaning the snow from his pudgy body. Something passed between them, which infuriated the snowickle. He wanted to play!
Reluctantly, Khen did the same as Fugue did and was equally struck down. Again was Roro sitting upon his pile, beaming. “More!”
But his friends didn’t do as he asked! The snowickle watched with surprise and growing displeasure as both Khen and Fugue tried to tell him that it was their turn, but Roro flatly refused their queries. This was his pile! Who made up the game? Who gave the idea to steal - no, borrow – the neggs from the Negg Faerie? A fleeting thought passed as he remembered that Fugue gave him the idea, but he cast it from his mind.
“That’s it, Roro. We’re leaving,” Khen snarled and stomped right out of the cavern.
Roro was stunned. “What... why?”
Fugue gave him a glare of his own, and then stumbled on after the retreating snicklebeast, leaving the confused snowickle upon a pile of cold neggs. Strange, he never thought of the neggs as cold while he was playing with his friends.
The realization stunned him momentarily.
They weren’t his friends anymore because he wasn’t nice to them. He got so excited with the game that he never gave a thought about his friends... ex-friends. If he hurt them, he never noticed. A feeling of giddiness that he experienced moments ago was replaced with such a terrible sorrow that it felt as if a freezing blanket of rain had fallen upon his little frame.
Now what would he do?
For that matter, what could he do?
The snowickle decided that the only thing he should do was say sorry. It was his fault, he knew that, and they should know how sad he was about his mistakes. Roro dug out a negg from the pile, and used some paint from a freshly made easter negg to write in rough letters: ‘I’m Sorry’ on a blank blue negg. Pleased at his completed handiwork, Roro turned around with a smile. “Hey Fugue, isn’t this pretty?”
Again did he experience that feeling of remorse and nearly burst into tears. He was so lonely... oh so lonely!
One last glance at the negg was all that it took. His expression of guilt was replaced with that of firm resolution. Gripping his work in his little jaws, Roro stomped out of the cavern and began to follow his friends’ prints in the snow.
“...what a meanie!”
Roro found Khen and Fugue at last, sitting on a ledge across from the icy arena, where a muted roar of the crowd was heard. They were speaking softly to one another, but their voices carried and the snowickle heard every single word.
“We were his friends!”
He was about to round about the rock that stood between him and the two petpets, but then heard a phrase that made him stop in his tracks, and his tail droop.
“Don’t worry, we will be his friends no longer,” Khen said with assurance, turning his head to watch the arena.
Overcome with emotion, Roro dropped the negg with a plop upon the snow and ran away, crying. He did not intend for the snuffly and the snicklebeast to hear his sobs, but they did. He didn’t see them turn around, find the negg, and begin to run after his retreating form either.
Khen followed the footprints to the cave where they played earlier. Fugue shuffled behind, sniffing the ground. “Are you sure he’s here? I feel terrible.”
Although he was trying to make himself feel tough, Khen had to agree. He felt truly, truly horrible when he realized that Roro heard everything he said. He felt even worse when Fugue found the negg with the apology note written crudely upon it, and realized that they all had to make amends.
A soft sniffle was heard from within, and Khen knew that he found the snowickle. With an uncomfortable gulp, he entered the grotto and spoke aloud. “Roro? Is that you...?”
“Go away!” The loud voice startled him and Khen felt his shoulder encased in snow.
Ignoring the warning, the snicklebeast went deeper within, followed by an uncertain snuffly. The cavern was bright because the entrance was so big, and he easily spotted a small figure huddling beside the crate that originally held the neggs they had borrowed from the faerie.
“Listen,” he started softly, “Roro, I am sorry that we said all those nasty things about you. I really am, but,” his heart filled with an anger that even surprised him, “you were pretty nasty to us too!”
The sobs came afresh, but after a few moments they began to quiet down. “I... I am so sorry... so sorry...” whispered the snowickle.
Fugue was quick to act. “Well, now that we have all said sorry, let's do it formally.” He extended his paw to the little translucent form upon the snow. “Friends?”
The moment lasted a few seconds, but to Khen it felt like hours. Slowly, Roro turned around and stretched out his own claw, shaking hands with Fugue. “Friends.” Suddenly, he turned to Khen and waited.
Khen acquiesced. “Friends.”
In the period of but a single hour, three friends parted and returned. Their first action was to return the neggs back to the Negg Faerie, who was most worried when she noticed them missing. As a gift, she gave all three petpets a nice happiness negg to eat, and their flush of friendship that was so harshly cooled was re-ignited. Roro promised never to be so nasty again, and Khen and Fugue promised likewise.
“So Roro, what game should we play today?” Fugue asked, licking his paws.
The snowickle paused for a moment, and then his eyes brightened. “Let's play the Snowager!”
Upon seeing his friends’ expressions, he grinned sheepishly. “Just kidding! Lets play Snowbeast and Snufflybeast instead!”