Petpet Adventures: Let It Snow - Part Eight
The piles of treasures and the towering walls seemed much larger than they actually were without the massive body of the Snowager filling the cavernous space. And though Tvarla wasn't surprised at his not being there, she was a bit confused as why he had to leave in the first place.
She and her friends had gone halfway across the mountain and back just to retrieve his precious negg, but when they finally came to give it back to him, he had simply disappeared. She turned around and saw Kliaod entering hesitantly. Relief showed on her face at the absence of the Snowager, and Tvarla took the opportunity to kick away a negg that he had almost tripped over. It skidded away, leaving a groove in the ice.
Tvarla forgot the negg and rushed back out of the cave, ignoring Askar and Emari, who had just arrived. She saw that a wide trail had been cleared amongst the debris that remained in the tunnel, leading to the snow outside, where the groove in the snow had been gouged.
She stared down the length of it, watching its path down the side of the mountain. There was the sound of paws behind her and Emari jogged up, eyeing her with a worried expression.
"I'm guessing you're a little grumpy that the Snowager's not here," she commented.
Tvarla nodded in agreement. Right now she wanted to find the Snowager and get all this over with.
"I think the Snowager has left the Ice Caves," said Askar as he trotted up.
"Way to state the obvious." Tvarla grinned, and when he opened his mouth to reply, Emari let out a sigh.
"Get out of it, both of you," she ordered.
"Yes," said Kliaod, coming back with the negg nestled gently in her arms. Tvarla could not tell if the Bori's injuries were hurting her, but they looked painful.
"Let me hold that," she offered.
The Bori smiled at her gratefully, lowering the negg to the ground. It was Tvarla's misfortune that at the same moment the crack on the negg became wider and smashed her entire body back into the wall. She felt herself sliding to the ground, her head spinning.
"We have to find the Snowager soon," she mumbled almost incoherently. "I don't think I can cope with that one more time."
She slowly stood up and brushed herself off. Kliaod was curled into a ball. As Tvarla watched she slowly uncurled herself.
"Bori defence technique," she said in answer to the quizzical looks aimed straight at her.
"Well right now I wish I was a Bori," Tvarla muttered.
She trotted over, stumbling slightly as she heard a loud roar. Her hooves scraped in the ice and created high pitched shrieking. Or that was what it sounded like. She realised then that it was not coming from within the cavern, but somewhere outside.
Kliaod heard it as well, and her head snapped up automatically. Her eyes narrowed in concentration and her ears swivelling. "It's coming from down the mountain."
Tvarla stared at her in astonishment. "How could you know that?" she spluttered.
Kliaod shrugged and gave a small smile. "Practise, I guess."
"I think the roaring is coming from down the mountain as well," Emari said. "It must be the Snowager; we didn't see him on our way down." She fluttered into the air. "Let's go."
Askar grunted and traced an elaborate pattern in the ice with one black claw. "Are we done here?" he asked, looking up.
Tvarla nodded, and Emari flew out of the Caves, leading the way. Tvarla took one last look at the wreckage behind her, then followed, taking a deep breath.
She saw a sheet of ice a few metres away, cracked as was to be expected after the blast of the Snowager's roar and the negg cracking. She eyed it carefully, then turned to Kliaod. The white Bori was surveying the landscape below.
"I can see Happy Valley," she said. "But only as a tiny speck."
"Kliaod," Tvarla interrupted. "Could you break off a piece of that ice?" Tvarla used one hoof to point towards it.
Kliaod eyed it sceptically. "I might be able to. But I will need help."
Tvarla nodded, and followed Kliaod to the ice. She didn't end up having to help, however, because Kliaod managed to snap the ice off on the first try. It came away in her paws, three metres long and a metre wide, as well as being at least ten centimetres thick. It must have been quite weakened to break so easily.
Kliaod seemed to have guessed her intentions, and her face clouded over. "Are you sure about this?" she asked.
Tvarla nodded. "I've done it before. Though not with such a large piece of ice."
Askar settled himself down on the ice sheet. "I'm sure you're making her feel a whole lot better," he said with a touch of sarcasm. Then he turned to the white Bori. "But it will be the fastest way," he said. "We do this sort of thing all the time, and only ended up with a few bruises."
Finally Kliaod nodded and sat down gingerly on the ice. Emari followed, and Tvarla came last, loading the negg carefully on board and then giving the ice a small push. Not that it had any effect. It was only when Kliaod pushed off that the ice began to slide down the mountainside.
The mountain landscape rushed by in a grey and white blur as the makeshift sledge made its swift descent. Tvarla clung onto the ice as best she could, but it was a hard job not to slip off, as they were going much faster than she was used to, propelled by the extra weight of the Bori.
Her eyes widened in dismay as Happy Valley came into sight. But that was not what worried her. It was the twenty metre drop from the top of a vertical cliff that caught her attention. She had not known it was there, and the sledge was almost going too fast to stop.
She reacted immediately, digging one hoof into the snow around the ice sheet. But the momentum of their passage was too much, and the hoof was torn free before it had even caught hold. She looked around frantically and saw Kliaod start to do the same. The white Bori dug her back claws deep into the ice, and reached out with her forepaws to the ground rushing by.
She slowed the ice sheet down considerably; long enough for the three petpets to jump off. Tvarla rolled over in the snow, the negg clutched close to her chest. She looked up in time to see the sledge rush pass, and started forward. But by then it was too late.
Kliaod's eyes were wide as the momentum of the sledge tugged her front claws out of the ground. She tried desperately to pull her back claws free from the ice, but they were stuck fast. Tvarla stumbled closer as her friend disappeared over the edge of the cliff. She dropped the negg in her haste, but before she could run more than a few stops, a claw sent her flying.
She gritted her teeth and looked up, straight into the eyes of Vrailli. Boiling hatred welled up in her. He was the cause of all this. She snarled and crouched down, but Askar beat her to the Eyrie, buffeting him aside with a blow to the head. The white Eyrie staggered, and Tvarla was gratified to see that his wings and back had wounds all along them.
Askar struck Vrailli again, and the Eyrie turned to face this new threat. Emari joined in, her wings fluttering frantically as she tried to retain height. Tvarla joined in last of all, still numb with shock.
And then it was all over.
Askar charged the Eyrie from the side, sending him tumbling down the shallow slope towards the cliff's edge. There was a brief pause in time as he teetered on the brink, legs flailing and grasping, panic stamped on his face, and then he was gone, and the only thing left was a cold wind that seemed to mock Tvarla's loss.
Kliaod had proved to be a valuable and brave friend on their quest, and Tvarla knew that she would never forgive herself for being the cause of her death. After all, she had been the one to suggest that they use the ice as a sledge.
She felt a light pressure on her shoulder and turned to see Emari reaching out with one paw to comfort her. Askar had trudged to the edge, and was staring down at the ground below, but Tvarla could not bring herself to do so. After a long silence Askar turned, and his face still showed hatred.
"He deserved that," he spat.
"How could anyone deserve that?" Emari asked, her voice shaking.
"He did the exact same thing to my brother," Askar said quietly. "He saw us in the cave, and chased us to the edge of a cliff. My brother lost his balance and fell, and all Vrailli did was laugh."
A silence followed this revelation, until Askar spoke again, his face now sad, but determined. "Well, we have a task to finish," he said.
"What?" Tvarla asked.
Askar scooped up the negg. "We have to return this to the Snowager. It is what Kliaod would have wanted."
Tvarla stepped forward and reached for the negg, running her hoof over it. Then she nodded. "Let's do this."
To be continued...