Petpet Adventures: Let It Snow - Part One
The Snowager lifted his massive head, gazing around the enormous cavern. He disregarded the neggs, plushies and miscellaneous items scattered all over the floor. This was what he did every time he wanted to sleep, which wasn't very often. He was always reluctant to shut his eyes, should some thieving pet snatch up his precious treasures.
Once completely satisfied that there was nothing that breathed about, he lowered his head towards the crystalline coils that were his immense serpentine body. Then he tucked his tail firmly around a small, opaque negg, pale in colour; the only one of its kind in his entire cavern. He gripped it tightly, as if assuring himself that it was still there, and shut his eyes.
Silence reigned, broken only by the Snowager's harsh breathing as he slept. Then came the sounds of scuffling feet. They became louder, and more hesitant, and then stopped altogether. But now two sets of breathing could be heard: The calm breathing of the sleeping serpent and the fast, frightened breath of the newcomer.
From the dim light of some of the neggs, which had a merry glow of their own, a small white Bori could be seen near the entrance of the cave. She shuffled closer, then stopped, eyes wide with fear as the Snowager stirred. But the massive glassy body merely loosened its hold on the negg it was curled around.
The Bori relaxed, and crept closer. Her eyes had spotted the negg and now she headed towards it, ignoring the other treasures in her path. Her black claws glinted as they plucked the negg adeptly from the pile, caressing the smooth surface with extreme care and caution. She turned and slowly tiptoed back out the way she had come, ears pricked to hear the slightest sound. But the Snowager remained fast asleep.
She hurried out of the cavern, her prize now glinting as the light around it brightened. Up ahead a few more pets looked up from their loitering to greet her, all of them with white coats, which were perfect for blending in with the landscape. The Snowager's cave was left silent again, away from the bustle of the Ice Caves.
Then the Snowager woke up.
* * *
Tvarla skidded down the icy slope in front of her, spraying ice out on either side. This was unfortunate for the Polarchuck behind her, since he got the brunt of the ice in his eyes. He moaned and rubbed it out with a snow-white paw.
"Do you always have to do that, Tvarla?" he complained grumpily. "You're going to make me blind one day."
Tvarla grinned. "Do what?" she asked, shaking snow out of her shaggy brown coat.
"Annoying Raindorfs," The Polarchuck grunted, as a few specks of ice hit him.
"Do you guys always have to argue?" piped in a small Gwalla as she toiled up the slope towards them, with a poorly concealed snowball grasped in one green paw.
"How do you know we were fighting, Emari?" the Polarchuck asked, deftly avoiding the lump of snow she aimed at his head.
"Because that's what you always do," she replied, not at all irked by the fact she had missed; in fact, she was already bending down to scoop up another pawful.
Tvarla was vaguely listening, but something had caught her eye, and she peered down the slope at the entrance to the Ice Caves.
"Askar, Emari, come look at this," she called.
The two petpets scurried up to join her and followed her gaze. From her position halfway up Terror Mountain she could see all the way to Happy Valley, although that was just a tiny smudge of colour through the gently descending snowflakes. The Ice Caves entrance was filled with bustling figures, as usual.
"Well, what about it?" Askar said, losing interest fast.
"Those white pets," Tvarla insisted. "Can't you see them?"
By now even Emari had lost interest. "You must have been seeing snow," she snorted. "After all, didn't you say they were white pets?"
Tvarla turned away from them, narrowing her eyes against the soft flakes that drifted down around them. She had sworn she had seen half a dozen shapes milling about near the entrance, and seen the flash of something crystalline. And something about them had caught her eye; they had been moving with a guilty haste that reminded her of whenever Askar set up some trick for her. Finally she shook her head, clearing it of the pets. It must have been her imagination.
"What now?" Askar asked. "And you had better not spray me with snow again, Tvarla."
Tvarla smiled innocently at him. "Let's go to that ice slope we found yesterday," she suggested.
Askar glared at her suspiciously. "Alright," he said finally.
Emari immediately headed around the side of the mountain. She knew the slope like the back of her paw. But so did both Askar and Tvarla, having lived on the icy slopes of Terror Mountain their entire lives. Tvarla remembered being raised on top of the mountain, how to survive and what to eat in the unforgiving landscape. Sometimes she managed to get some food off pets, but most of the time she found the rare morsels of food that actually grew on the mountain.
She was so accustomed to the snow that she had no trouble whatsoever walking through it. Askar was the same, and Emari could just fly when the need arose. She ploughed through it as easily as if it had been short grass and followed the Gwalla to the icy slope they had discovered only the day before.
She dashed ahead of the others and pitched straight onto the ice, skidding dangerously and tumbling head over heels. She land with a thud and picked herself up, her dignity in jeopardy as she saw the other two petpets start to crack up. She turned away and took a step, only to trip and fall, sliding down the ice at an alarming rate.
She dug her heels in scrabbled furiously for a foothold, but her fast descent stopped her from holding anything for even a second. By now Askar and Emari were looking worried. Askar took a hesitant step towards the ice then hesitated; there was no point in them both falling.
Then suddenly she stopped. She had crashed headlong into something heavy and furry. She looked up and blinked, convinced for a second that nothing was there, but then she saw the shapes of pets in the snow, their fur the same crisp whiteness as the snow around them. There were about six of them that she could see, and she had crashed into the furry hindquarters of a rather ungainly looking Eyrie.
The Eyrie stared down at her haughtily, and then shoved her away with a snarl. This time she crashed into a rock, and what air she had left from her first collision was knocked out of her lungs. She took several deep breaths as she watched the pets hurry away. They seemed nervous and now she noticed that the Eyrie was wearing a white cloak. And amongst the folds was a flash of something extremely pale and reflective.
Before she could figure out what it was, Emari arrived, her wings on overdrive as she fluttered along a few feet above the snow.
"Are you okay?" she asked. "Those pets..."
She never got any further, because at that same moment, a huge explosion rent the air, tearing at Tvarla's eardrums until she could bear it no more and stuffed her hooves in her ears. The roar, because that's what it seemed like to her, was like one of an extremely enraged beast, and went on for a full minute.
When the last echoes had finally faded Tvarla opened her eyes, which had been scrunched up tight. She looked around and saw that the ice beneath her had cracks zigzagging over the surface, getting wider with every moment. She felt small tremors beneath her hooves and looked around.
"What on Neopia was that?" growled Askar, who had finally reached them.
Emari shook her head, lost for words.
"It came from the Ice Caves," Tvarla said. "What do you think it was?"
"I'd rather not find out," the Polarchuck muttered, rubbing his ears.
Tvarla stared longingly at the small hole in the side of Terror Mountain that served as the secondary entrance.
"It had to be the Snowager," Emari said finally. "I mean, what on Neopia could make a racket like that other than him?"
Tvarla remembered when she had been a fawn, and she had been frightened by the constant outbursts of the Snowager's fury, the cause of most of the avalanches on the entire mountain. By now she was used to it, but never had she heard the roars at such a velocity. Her muscles was still tense from the sheer ferocity of it, and her fur stood on end.
"I say we check it out," she said.
Emari was quick to agree; she was always too curious for her own good. Tvarla predicted the nod before it even happened.
Askar stared at her. "Are you completely out of your mind?" he spluttered. "Do you have any idea what that overgrown Snowickle could do to us?"
Tvarla shrugged. "Come on, can't we just take a look around the Ice Caves?"
He opened his mouth again to protest, but another tremor shook the ground and there was the sound of shifting snow. The petpets looked at each other with wide yes; they had lived too long on the Mountain not to know the signs of an avalanche when they heard it.
Askar sighed. "Oh, if you insist," he muttered. "But we'd better hurry."
Tvarla nodded and glanced back up the mountain, then quickly bounded down the slope towards the entrance to the Caves. Emari followed; by now she had stopped flying in favour of reserving her precious energy. The mountain still grumbled angrily behind them, but they quickly reached the entrance, and Tvarla sighed with relief as she stepped inside. A noise which quickly changed to a gasp.
The normally crystal clear tranquillity of the Ice Caves had been shattered - literally. Where icy sharp stalactites had normally hung above, threatening to spear those below, there were now only jagged stumps, the points missing. The stalactites in question had fallen straight down to the ice below, some piercing the surface and sticking out at jaunty angles. Others had shattered into tiny ice shards. The ice that made the up the floor was cracked in most places, making uneven footholds for the pets and humans struggling to leave before anything unwanted should fall on top of them.
Tvarla felt Emari struggle up beside her.
"Wow," the Gwalla said.
Tvarla nodded her agreement. "I've never seen that happen before, either," she said.
Askar slid past them both, almost losing control on the slippery ground. He was headed towards a stalagmite cracked in half, but skilfully manoeuvred around it. He turned to look at them, and bowed. Tvarla smiled; Askar was a master on the ice. She skated past him, her hooves leaving deep grooves in the ice. Emari shook her head and followed.
"I'd forgotten just how much fun ice skating was," Askar called.
He called a little too loudly, because the next moment the ground trembled beneath Tvarla, and she saw the icicles above her tremble dangerously. Packed snow slid of the wall, and headed towards them like a mini avalanche. She skated away from the converging snow as fast as she could, with Emari and Askar on her trail.
They both managed to skate ahead of her, still evading the oncoming snow. She realised then where they were headed - the Snowager's Den - and considered taking her chance with the cold ice. But she had gained too much momentum to stop, and skidded onwards towards the dark tunnel. She was about to catch up to the others, when she noticed a clump of stalactites on the roof in front of her. They were wobbling like they were about to fall – straight onto her.
She had to think quickly: Stop or try to get past them. She chose the second option and skated faster, but already the first of the ice daggers was on its way down to the ice. She shut her eyes and braced herself.
To be continued...
Author's note: Hi there! If you're reading this, I hope you're enjoying it so far. This story was actually conceived more than three years ago, but I only finished it recently. Any comments or criticisms would be greatly appreciated, and I hope you like the series ^^.