Eisian and the Amulet of Thilg: Part Three
Eisian looked at Hagan expectantly. As far as she was concerned, if he did not have a solution for her, nobody would. Seeing the look of bewilderment on the King’s face filled her with worry.
“These tasks,” recounted the King. “’Find safety in a monster, lightness in the dark, and a rope made of sand.’ I think the easiest to start with would be the second.”
“Easiest?” questioned Greyson. “None of the tasks are easy!”
“Think about it, though,” the King suggested. “Darkness. What are the darkest places on Neopia?”
Eisian thought. In her Neoschool days, she could remember being afraid of many things: Spyders, Blumaroo jesters, the Chocolate Factory Kiko, and... the dark. She sometimes had nightmares about being lost in the Ice Caves or Smuggler’s Cove, the darkness blinding her until a faint light could be seen on the other side.
“It’s a cave,” she revealed. “We have to search in caves until we find a light!”
A map of Neopia hung on the wall in back of King Hagan. He stood and the group gathered around it. They mapped out a route that would take Eisian and Greyson up to the Ice Caves, the darkest site they could think of. Eisian scrawled out a note to her parents and tied it to the Weewoo’s leg, instructing him to deliver the message as fast as he could and then meet them at Terror Mountain.
Maybe she had a chance, after all.
Voices echoed in the dungeon, a fact of which the Aisha was not sure the Royal Family was aware.
“The messenger Weewoo just arrived!” exclaimed the Queen’s voice. “Eisian says they may have figured out one of the tasks; they are on their way to the Ice Caves.”
“The Ice Caves?” the King remarked. “They are far too dangerous! Greyson had better keep an eye on Eisian!”
Hearing that the princess was having some success with her plight, the Aisha became annoyed. She could not believe that the guard, this Greyson, had reneged on his deal with her. Now he and the princess were off on their quest and she was still locked behind the iron bars in the dungeon. She paced and paced, wearing down the dirt floor with her footprints.
There had to be a way out, she thought. She shook on the door, but it held steadfastly, barely budging. She yanked at the bars on the window, but they too were unwavering under the pressure. The only way out she could think of was through the ground. The thought of digging a hole out was not appealing to the Aisha.
“Here’s your supper,” a watchman grunted. He eased the cell door open and dropped a tin tray at his feet. Upon the tray lay a Dung Cream Sandwich, Bitten Green Apple, and a Cup of Water.
The Aisha’s lip curled and a sneer spread across her face. This guard’s insolence would be repaid when the pharaoh returned; she would make sure of that. She glared at the soldier from her spot on the floor, yellow hair falling over her eyes. That is when an idea came to her.
The guards came in to deliver meals at the same time every day, opening the door and standing in the entry way to scoff at the prisoner. The Dung cream Sandwich was as hard as a brick and the Aisha believed that if she distracted the guard long enough, played into his mocking, she could stealthily slide a piece of the sandwich between the cell door and the wall. The guards would leave and she could creep out. They would return with their next disgusting meal to find the cell empty and the wicked Aisha would be free.
That was the plan, she decided. Once she was free, she would track down the princess and stop her from removing the Amulet of Thilg.
For now, though, she would have to wait.
The wind on Terror Mountain blew so hard it was blinding to anybody who ventured outside their homes. It howled in the moonlight like a hungry Kadoatie, eliciting creaks and moans from the buildings below. A faint shadow, however, could be seen soaring against the current. Eisian and Greyson flapped their wings as hard as they could, straining to reach the frosty soil of the mountain.
Terror Mountain itself was not all that terrifying. Happy Valley was a small village located at the base of the mountain. Eisian could remember being a Baby Draik, playing with her Happy Valley Usuki Play Set, wishing she could go ice skating like the Rink Runner or play Snowball Fight with the Faeries.
The Ice Caves sat in the middle of Terror Mountain. The caves themselves were not frightening; it was the beast that inhabited them that was. The Snowager was known as one of the fiercest and greediest creatures in Neopia. Many Neopets tested their nerves and tried to steal items from the Snowager’s massive treasure hoard, but few succeeded. The Ice Caves’ walls were lined with delicate icicles. Walking through the caves, one could see their reflection a billion times, their forms mirrored in the surfaces of each blade of ice.
“Here goes nothing.” Eisian prepared herself. Although she was able to have help with thinking of ways to solve the tasks, help actually completing them was prohibited. She was on her own. Eisian looked to Greyson, who stood in back of her, arms folded across his chest.
“You can do this, Eisian,” he told her. “Do not doubt yourself. I will be here when you come back.”
Stepping lightly, Eisian entered the Cavern of the Snowager.
The Aisha watched as Eisian stepped into the cavern. If Eisian and Greyson thought they were going to solve a task, they had another thing coming. After several hours of plotting, the Aisha was successful in her escape. The Lost Desert Guards could definitely use some training. Greyson stood there for a moment, watching Eisian move down deeper into the cavern before he turned and admired the caves. The Aisha took that moment of opportunity and quietly followed the Draik princess.
She peered around the corner of the Snowager’s lair and watched as the pesky princess grabbed the hem of her gown and tiptoed around the perimeter of the Snowager’s treasure. Neggs of all colors were piled several feet high, the blue snake resting at the top. She could see a light mist coming from his nostrils as he slept.
Eisian tripped over a stray Blue Kiko Keyring and her cry ricocheted against the icy walls of the cavern. She quickly covered her mouth with her hands. The Snowager moaned and turned his head in her direction, though he was still soundly sleeping.
Having dodged a bullet, Eisian became more aware of what was around her. She glanced over her shoulder as she walked and noticed a shadow behind a large boulder. The Aisha’s long, yellow ears were barely visible in the darkness, but Eisian knew what she saw. How the evil Neopet had escaped was beyond her, but she had no doubt that she was being followed.
Eisian knelt down and picked up a Purple Negg. Holding the Negg tightly against her chest, she stepped to the left and saw the Aisha copy her movement. A step to the right and the Aisha was in full view. Seizing her chance, the Draik chucked the Negg toward the Aisha, sending her down to the ground.
“Good Sloth!” the Aisha exclaimed. The Snowager jerked and opened his eyes. Right in front of him lay the Aisha. A booming roar sent icicles falling to the ground, like shrapnel after a Ghostkerbomb was set off. He heaved a heavy spray of frost toward the Aisha. Too stunned that the beast was awakened, the Aisha could not dodge the blast. The frost enveloped her and she found herself stuck to the floor of the Ice Caves.
The Snowager, weary from protecting his heaps of treasures, lay back down and began to snore. Eisian, shaking with fear, suddenly felt the necklace’s hold on her neck loosen.
Find safety in a monster, she thought. I just solved a task!
Realizing that this was not the time to begin celebrating, Eisian turned and snuck back out of the cavern. She paused shortly at the spot where the Aisha lay and smiled. Nice try, she thought, but you are going to have to do better than that. When she emerged from the cavern, she could see Greyson was waiting for her, green eyes wide with nervousness.
“Are you alright?” he asked, helping Eisian climb the final step. “I heard the Snowager and thought the worst!”
Smiling, Eisian nodded. “I just found safety in a monster, Greyson.”
Greyson’s eyed travelled down to the ruby red amulet around his friend’s neck, taking in the slack of the chain that had not existed before. He yelped with excitement and hugged Eisian.
With one task completed and the dastardly Aisha trapped in the icy web, Eisian and Greyson left the Ice Caves with renewed confidence
Their quest was not in vain after all; they could really save Neopia!
To be continued...