Of Happy Valley and Trees in Terror Mountain
"So..?" Nabile looked at the red Kyrii, her head tilted to one side, the cloth covering her mouth swishing.
"No." Jazan stubbornly crossed his arms.
"Jazan, it'll be a nice vacation!" Nabile pleaded, giving her husband puppy-dog eyes. "And Tomos and Hanso and Brynn will be there!"
"Even worse!" Jazan sighed, rubbing his temples where a headache was beginning. "Nabile, I'm sorry, but I'm a Kyrii who lives in the desert, leads a desert life, and what about Qasala? I can't leave it kingless! I cannot, no, no, no, I will not go!"
"Jazan..." Nabile begged. "You like Tomos, right? And Brynn. Nightsteed will take care of the kingdom, I already arranged it. Please? You need a break!"
"I do not like Terror Mountain for obvious reasons," the king huffed.
"Come on, only for a few days!" Nabile looked on the verge of tears.
"Fine, fine, just don't cry," Jazan said, slumping wearily into an armchair.
"Right, I'll go pack for us!" Nabile skipped off. Jazan groaned. It could not get any worse.
A trip to Terror Mountain?
Nabile seized Jazan by the arm. She dragged him into the five foot deep snow.
"We're here!" she chirped.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no..." the red Kyrii moaned under his breath, instantly shivering as the cold wind stung his face. The sun shone faintly onto the snow. "It's supposed to be warm when the sun shines."
"Cheer up, Mr. Gloomy." Nabile beamed. "Oh look, there they are." Jazan was dragged towards Tomos, Brynn and Hanso. Hanso flinched away from him. He was clad in a light jacket, hat and scarf with snow pants, boots and mittens. Much warmer, Jazan thought, grimly, than what I am wearing.
Tomos grinned at him. Jazan's face remained stony and cold as he glowered around at his surroundings.
"Hello, uh, sir," Hanso stammered.
"Your majesty," Brynn hissed.
"Your majesty," Hanso hastily corrected himself, and then he gave a sly grin. "Isn't it pleasantly chilly?" Jazan wanted to strangle the impudent Ixi thief.
"Yes," he gritted out, his eyes becoming a golden orange, threatening to become red. "Perfectly delightful weather. Couldn't be better." Then he turned to Nabile.
"Where are we staying?" he asked icily.
"There's a little cabin that we rented on the outskirts of Happy Valley," Tomos told him. The king trudged past them. He could dimly see the small house. When they reached it, Jazan wanted to scream. It was tiny, built with logs. The windows were covered with snow and ice and icicles six feet long hung from the edge of the roof. A woodpile stood beside the door. Nabile slipped a key out from out of her pocket and unlocked the door. They filed in. Inside was dimly lit, and cold. The room appeared to be a small living room, with an overstuffed sofa and two armchairs. There was a door leading into the kitchen, and two small bedrooms.
"Um, fire?" Tomos asked, retrieving an armful of logs from the woodpile. Jazan nodded, shortly, and in a minute they had a large fire, roaring in the hearth. The Kyrii closed his eyes. He was trying to be pleasant, he really was. He sat beside the fire. Nabile sat beside him.
"What's the trouble? Aren't you enjoying it?" she asked softly.
"It is rather difficult to enjoy something when one is in the company of a dimwitted blue Ixi thief and a Lupe who lives with the Scarabs and doesn't know the difference between two times two and seven times eight," Jazan replied.
"I'm a Scarab," Nabile pointed out gently. "I know the difference between two times two and seven times eight."
"You are also the queen of Qasala," Jazan reminded her, his eyes flickering from golden, to red, to golden again, "There is a difference, you know." Nabile laughed lightly.
"Cheer up, grumpy," she chided. "It's not as bad as you think." Jazan smiled slightly for her sake. He couldn't make her unhappy. If he didn't enjoy the trip, then Nabile, at least, should have her fair share of pleasantries.
"Oh, by the way..."
Jazan's smile vanished.
"We're going sledding tomorrow."
His eyes turned a flaming red.
"What?" he asked.
"We're going sledding tomorrow." Nabile gently tweaked her husband's ear.
Jazan fled from the fire, and into the kitchen. Nobody was there. Relieved, he slammed the door shut.
Things couldn't get any worse.
That night, he could not sleep. He had claimed the sofa, telling Nabile that she needed the bed to herself. She had argued of course, but the Kyrii had been stubborn, and in the end, he had had his own way. He had only wanted to be alone. Nabile was sweet, and she was the only one who actually understood him, but he was tired of the cold, the wet and the snow. It was Nabile's fault that they were here. Jazan rubbed his temples. He rolled over. He was somewhat scrunched, the sofa not being long enough to hold his entire six feet of self. Being tall had its disadvantages. When he finally fell asleep, he dreamt of giant sleds swallowing the cabin, and mounds of snow eating him alive.
He awoke when frail sunbeams peeped through the glass. As usual, he got up and got dressed. He was unused to wearing snow clothes, as he usually wore desert clothes, so, instead of the jacket Nabile had gotten him, he put on his normal robes and desert tunic. Nabile came into the room, clad in her usual outfit, and she was closely followed by Brynn, Hanso, and Tomos. Jazan grunted in annoyance. They quickly finished breakfast, and bundled into scarves, hats, coats and snow pants. Jazan felt completely and utterly ridiculous. He pulled the hat down to his eyebrows and his scarf up to his eyes. The less people could see of his face, the better. The air outside was crisp and chilly. It had a freshness hanging about it. Hanso fetched four sleds from somewhere, only Jazan had no idea where, being intent on keeping himself warm.
His eyes went red. They reached the sledding hill, er, actually, the sledding mountain. They were on a slope of Terror Mountain that led down, down, down into the depths of Happy Valley. Nabile urged him onto a sled. The red Kyrii unhappily did as he was bidden. The pink Ixi gave a push and off he whizzed. The wind stung his face. Jazan desperately tried not to scream. Panic surged through him. Hanso streaked past him, Jazan was on top of him! He could hear Hanso grunting. He slid off the miserable bundle of Ixi. He looked back to call sorry but found he couldn't open his mouth from terror.
"Jazan..." He heard faintly and he looked ahead just in time to see a large pine tree in the middle of his path. Nabile was skidding towards him from behind to keep him from running into the offending plant. Jazan stuck his foot out, the snow clumped up beneath it, he was thrown off, head over heels he tumbled towards the sturdy tree trunk. Nabile flung her arm out to grab him. Too late! The king was cracked soundly against the wood, head on and then everything went black.
Jazan opened his eyes, feeling old and weary. His head ached, his temples pounded. He could feel Nabile's hand on his.
"Jazan, you're okay!" the Ixi cried softly.
"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" the king grunted. "My poor head..!"
"You took quite a spill back there," Nabile reminded him. Everything jolted. Nabile barely managed to catch him before he tumbled to the floor.
"Where are we?"
"We're going home, Jazan," Nabile said, beaming. Jazan blinked.
"I suppose I could bear running into more trees if it makes you happy," he said, teasingly.
Jazan chuckled. An hour passed. They were home! The desert heat at last. Qasala! Jazan smiled. He put his arm around Nabile's shoulders.
"We're finally home!" Jazan sighed with pleasure. "What're we going to do with all those snow clothes?"
"Keep them. Maybe we'll go again next year."
"No, we will not." Jazan tweaked the Ixi's nose.
And they both laughed.