Grundo on Ice: Part Four
Fallicina couldn't see anything but white snow around her. She started digging a way through the snowdrift. All this time more snow was falling from the sky. She had no idea how long she had already been pushing forward like that, but she did know that she was lost, cold, wet, tired and hungry. And she had lost her bag with all her equipment in it. Wherever the Grundo looked, she could see only wind bringing more giant snowflakes to her face. At some point, Fallicina thought she heard the Snowager roaring. It would have given her chills of fear, but the poor little Grundo was already shivering from the cold. But then she remembered reading an article about Snowager taking a hibernation during this month. "It must have been the wind... just the wind..." she whispered to herself.
She came to an object that reminded her of a snow covered tree. Fallicina sat next to it. She had lost all hope of finding a way out of this storm. She was exhausted and her vision started getting blurry. But then she raised her head and saw a weak light twinkling in the distance. The wind had got stronger and the snowfall heavier. Already the snow was up to Fallicina's chest. But the light she saw ahead gave her new strength to keep moving forward. Step after step she made her way through the snowstorm until she reached a small snowy dome hut. The light had come from its windows. Fallicina put all efforts into getting to the door, knocked on it and then everything around her turned blurry and black.
Fallicina opened her eyes. She saw a beautiful light blue ceiling and felt warmth from a shimmering fireplace. She found herself in a big, soft, comfy bed. She sat up to have a better look at the room, but then heard a beautiful voice:
"Good morning, my dear! It's good to see you're feeling better!"
Fallicina couldn't believe her eyes. The voice had come from Taelia, the gorgeous snow faerie with dark hair and white wings. She was wearing a blue velvet dress, which was covered with white lace. She approached the Grundo and gave her a cup of hot chocolate with five marshmallows floating in it. Fallicina thanked her, took a sip and asked:
"But what happened? How did I get here?"
Taelia sat on the bed and explained:
"I thought I heard someone knocking on my door last evening and when I went to see, I found you lying on my doormat, unconscious and frozen. But I often help neopets who are caught out in the cold, so I knew exactly what to do with you. You must have gotten lost in the horrible avalanche we had two days ago."
"Avalanche?!? Two days ago?"
Fallicina told what she had seen and felt on the evening when she was heading to her cabin.
"Yes, that was the avalanche. When the Snowager was awake, he moved around in his lair and kept the Ice Caves clean from the snow. But ever since he decided to hibernate, snow had been accumulating on the Terror Mountain and the Ice Caves. By that evening, all it needed was just one good blizzard, like the one we had, to cause an avalanche. We were lucky it happened during night time, when there were no other Neopians wandering outside. Otherwise I could not even imagine the damage and tragedy it would have caused – my healing abilities wouldn't have been enough."
Fallicina covered her cheeks with her palms and gasped. "But how big was the damage?" she asked.
"Like I said, no Neopians got hurt. But the Advent Calendar house took major damage. It needs many helping hands and lots of Neopoints to be repaired. I'm afraid it's the first time in Neopian history that the Advent Calendar cannot give gifts to visitors anymore until the end of this month."
"But you said the avalanche happened two days ago... does this mean that I was lost in the blizzard for an entire night and day... and if you found me yesterday evening, then today..."
Taelia nodded and said: "That's right, today is the Day of Giving. It's Christmas morning. Merry Christmas!"
She smiled and refilled their mugs with hot chocolate.
"Merry Christmas!" said Fallicina. But then she put her mug on the table and jumped up. "Wait, I have an idea!" she said. "You said you needed many helpful hands and lots of neopoints to get the good old Advent Calendar working again. Today is the Annual Happy Valley Skating competition, which brings a lot of neopets from all over Neopia to Happy Valley! This is such a big event – nobody wants to miss seeing the competition! And I'm sure there are lots of repairmen, carpenters, painters, designers – whoever we'd need to rebuild the Advent Calendar house! I'm sure they would gladly help!"
The Snow Faerie seemed to like this idea. But she pointed out the last problem:
"All the resources for rebuilding are costly; where could we possibly get enough neopoints?! I do have magical abilities, but they're good for healing, not for making neopoints."
And the Grundo answered:
"Neopia's best ice skaters have gathered in Happy Valley today. What if they all would agree to not compete this year, but to give a memorable show on ice, and all the benefits from it, including the rewards and golden trophy, would go for charity, for rebuilding the Advent Calendar!"
"Now that's a brilliant idea! I'm sure the skaters and the audience would agree to help. It's still quite early; I should have enough time to organize this." The snow faerie stood up and added: "But you should start preparing for your performance..."
"No, I won't be skating today," Fallicina whispered, a tear rolling down from her cheek.
Taelia went to her potion cupboard and took out an orange glass bottle. She said it was a magical elixir that would heal the frostbite and make anyone who drank it feel strong and well rested, just like after returning from a holiday on Mystery Island.
But Fallicina sobbed: "That's not the only problem. I lost my skates and my costume in the snow storm..."
A smile appeared on the faerie's face and she replied:
"My dear, it's Christmas morning. I'm quite sure I saw a box with your name under my Christmas tree. Go see what's inside and when you're ready, come outside. I will be waiting for you, but until then, I need to go cast some spells, so the storm will fade and we can go down to Happy Valley."
That said, Taelia had a last sip of hot chocolate, put on her warm coat, and went outside.
Fallicina wiped away all tears and hurried to the big decorated tree that stood in the middle of the room. She found a dark red box with her name on, indeed! She pulled away the golden ribbons, tore away the wrapping and opened the box. She couldn't believe her eyes! Inside the box there was a beautiful pink and white sports bag with light blue gems on it and a yellow shoulder strap attached. She unzipped the bag and found a pair of white ice skates with pink laces and a gorgeous pink figure skating dress. Fallicina was speechless. She tried the sparkling dress on right away. It wasn't even comparable with her previous outfit which she had lost in the avalanche. She noticed that the skates had been sharpened recently and she was sure that they would be much more comfortable than her old blue skates. Fallicina felt herself like a real ice princess now. She put the skates into the sports bag, drank the strength potion which Taelia had left on the table, put on her boots and winter coat, grabbed the bag and hurried outside.
Taelia's spells had been working; the blizzard was gone and snow was glistening in the morning sunlight. Taelia was already sitting in a white, winged sleigh and waiting for the Grundo. Fallicina joined her and after a faerie's magic spell, the sleigh started dashing towards Happy Valley. Excited, Fallicina thanked Taelia for the gifts all the way.
Happy Valley looked very different from the evening two days ago. The ice rink seemed even bigger in daylight. All the skaters had already gathered on the ice for one last practice. While Fallicina tied her new skates, Taelia called all the skaters around her and asked their attention for a few minutes. She explained the new plan and just like she had expected, everybody agreed to renounce the competition and give a good performance for fundraising, to repair the Advent Calendar. Taelia wished good luck for Fallicina and left to discuss with the competition organizers.
When visitors started gathering around the ice rink, all skaters were told to leave the ice and go get ready for the event. On the way to dressing room, Fallicina noticed many big posters and signs by the road, all of them informing about the changes. She also saw a long line of neopets, who were waiting for signing up to help rebuild the damaged structures. Fallicina arrived at the dressing room and got her orange hair put up nicely. She also applied pink glittering face paint, which matched with her dress very well. Then she took her coat on and went outside by the ice rink to wait for her family.
The grandstands surrounding the ice rink were full of excited Neopians and the show was about to begin. But Fallicina didn't see her family anywhere. She tried to remain cheerful by telling herself that thousands of neopets had gathered together and she simply couldn't notice her family sitting somewhere in the crowd...
And then the show began. First, Taelia floated to the middle of the ice rink for a speech.
"Dear Neopets who have gathered here from near and far, from high in the clouds and from the bottom of the seas, ladies and Gentlemen, young and old, WELCOME to the Annual Happy Valley Skating Competition!!!"
A huge applause followed. Fallicina was still seeking for her family, but ineffectually. Once the applause and cheering faded, Taelia continued:
"It is great to see so many ice skating admirers here today, but I must announce that the event will be different this year. Due to recent circumstances, of which many of you are aware of by now, we have decided to cancel this year's competition and replace it with a magnificent ice show."
Many astonished gasps were heard from the audience. Fallicina started getting nervous. "What if my family didn't make it here on time? What if something happened to them?" But there was nothing she could do to find answers to these questions, because she had to go on the ice any minute now. She still had her coat on and she slid her arms into pockets. And big was her surprise, when she found her little Ice Skating Bruce toy from her right pocket. Fallicina thought she had lost it in the snow storm. The toy had been a great help and inspiration for Fallicina during the time she was practicing at home. Having this talisman with her at this moment was encouraging and she continued listening to Taelia's speech.
"An avalanche has caused big damage to our beloved Advent Calendar house. Therefore, all talented skaters have collaborated to perform for you today and are donating all their award neopoints to the Advent Calendar repairing fund. Also, if any of YOU would like to help, please gather by the information desk after the show. I hope nobody who has come to see the best figure skaters of Neopia will be disappointed. Thank you for understanding and enjoy the show!"
Every neopet in the audience was cheering and clapping for support, while Taelia floated off the ice. And then the loudspeakers announced:
"Please welcome Fallicina on ice for her debut. This young Grundo from Neopia Central is also the creator of this ice show idea and the Advent Calendar repairing project!"
Fallicina took off her coat and removed her ice skate blade covers. She was about to step on the ice, when suddenly she noticed her mother, sister and brother sitting on the first row, calling her name and happily waving to her! Nothing could make Fallicina more happy. She smiled, waved back and then glided on ice.