Pabu the Snow-wrangler
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
The sounds of their footsteps seemed deathly loud as they went farther back in the icy, barren cave. Time seemed to slow down, making each second almost unbearable and every sound like a symphony. Pabuma the Kougra glanced over his shoulder to see his young mother following slowly behind him. He knew how less advanced the human senses were, so Pabuma couldn't help but feel a bit of empathy. Even now his senses were on full-speed, alerting him of every change in his surroundings. His ears slightly raised every time the snow took away what would have been a stealthy step. His eyes widened whenever his mother, Kitty, changed the direction of the flashlight. Everything about him was on fire, except for his tremendously cold paws.
Fear. Anxiety. Excitement. Despite all these emotion, Kitty kept her composure and silently creeped along the cave wall. The need to be almost invisible grew harder every step she took. Even her beloved Kougra seemed to be challenged at not making any noise. Only a few more steps, she kept telling herself. Then we'll be rewarded. Of course, she heard rumors that not everybody got a reward. Some even said that many Neopets came back seriously injured. Those thoughts made Kitty's heart race and her breath grow ragged. What would she do if she lost Pabuma? She couldn't even imagine...
Pabuma suddenly stopped in his tracks. Kitty, being the clumsy loaf that she always has been, fell right over him onto the ground. She let out a squeak as she tumbled headfirst into the snow. Pabuma hissed at his mother to be quiet. He could hear... something. A few steps and a turned corner lead to a huge entrance that would make even Turmaculus seem tiny in comparison.
"Psst... Mom," Pabuma excitedly whispered to his disgruntled mother. Kitty dusted herself off and quickly joined Pabuma. "Do you think it could be where the Snow... Snowager might be?" Kitty looked down at her excited Kougra and sighed. "Well, I'd hate to see what this would lead to if it wasn't, Pabu," she said with a worried look in her eyes. Pabuma shrugged off the worry and continued as quietly as he could. He took a stalking position. Belly to the ground, eyes narrowed, and completely focused. Kitty's heart was a jet now, going as fast as humanly possible. She didn't want to go any farther into the cave...but it would make Pabu happy. She had never had any Neopet as fond for her as that little Kougra was, and she wanted to show him just how much she appreciated that.
As the duo reached the entrance of the opening, they stimutaneously held their breath. Kitty gestured for Pabuma to stay back while she checked ahead. Pabuma unwillingly agreed to it. Kitty threw her bangs out of her face and pressed her back against the wall. Her breath came out in short, visible puffs. Her hands stung from the icy chill surrounding her. Slowly and diligently she turned her head around to scan the next room. At first, all she could see was dark. Then... an image started to form. Kitty, astonished, stared up into the huge mass of an...
Ice worm? Snoring on a giant pile of gifts?
"It's sleeping," Kitty whispered to Pabuma. He quickly stalked his way up to the entrance to get a good look at the giant, long, striped creature. The realization that this wasn't just a reward he's be given without any work made Pabuman feel brave and more daring. Without any direction from his mother, Pabuma started stalking his way up to the... worm? Snake? He decided to focus more on getting the reward alive than on what the creature exactly was.
While Pabu made his way to the gifts, Kitty gently creeped against the wall. She decided to keep watch on the giant, just in case it stirred from its slumber. Her eyes rested on the creature's humungous head, and focused in on the closed eyelids. Only a second passed, though, when she realized how vunrable Pabu would be. On an impulse, she got on her knees and crept up on the sleeping ice worm... or whatever it was. It was only until she could hear the creature's breath that she stopped, weak-kneed, and waited. A quick glance over her shoulder told her that Pabu made it to the gifts.
Pabuma had every action movie and heroic song playing in his head all at once. He'd get the present for his mom. He knew he would! His excitement grew as he approached the pile of gifts. Glancing them over, he was unsatisfied with the size of all of them. His mother wuld probably scold him for being greedy, but he didn't give a care at the moment. It was only until his eyes fell upon a large, wooden chest. There was sure to be a magnificent prize in there, he thought with joy. Glancing at the sleeping giant creature of ice, he finalized his decision. Ever so gently he climbed up the many, less valuable items, and made his way to the prize he desired. Unfortunately, no more than ten feet away from his dream chest, did his foot slightly... slip. Which made an item underneath him fall. Then another. Then yet another.
CRASH. CLANG. BANG.
Kitty's whole body intantly became filled with the worst, sickest feeling she could ever imagine. Her jaw dropped, and eyes became as wide as the moon. Looking back at the Snowager, all she could see was the icy depths of its cold blue eyes. It was awake. And not happy from the looks of it.
"Pabu, run!" Kitty screeched, lunging back from the monster.
The Snowager snapped its entire body up in only a mere movement. It glared down at Pabuma, who was stuck in a state of shock. Kitty noticed this, and leaped up to her feet. Just as she was about to start running to save her son, her knees gave in, pushing her back down to the icy floor with a pericing cry. The Snowager averted its gaze, started, to Kitty. Pabuma left his state of shock, and his beloved chest, and started barreling down the mountain of items. The Snowager shot a stream of icy shards towards him, which only luck allowed him to avoid completely. Pabuma ran as fast as he could, narrowly dodging another stream of sharp ice shards. Just as he was about to reach his mother, the plunged his neck down onto the hard cave floor in hopes of crushing the Kougra. Merely seconds before impact, Pabuma managed to slid his way under the ice creature, and missed being crushed underneath the tons of weight by inches.
Pabu rushed to his mother as the Snowager readied himself up for another attack. Finding the last bit of strength she had left, Kitty pushed herself onto her feet using the Kougra and started sprinting towards the exit. The snowager, ready for another attack, threw dozens of icy shards at them. Kitty pulled Pabu close to her and plummeted them both to the ground, just missing the attack. Kitty stumbled back onto her feet, and continued charging towards the opening with Pabuma at her side. They just made it to the exit when the snowager sent out another blast of ice. Kitty slammed her entire body into Pabu, making the two slam against the wall protected against the snowager. The two laid there for minutes, crying and hugging, trying to gain confidence again. The snowager gave a blood-chilling cry and fell back into a light sleep. Kitty and Pabu, inbetween the sobs, silently agreed to never go visit the Snowager again.
Hours later, Kitty crossed her legs on the large sofa and pulled her blanket closer to her. She had changed into warm, dry clothes but her skin still felt cold and a bit damp. She snuggle into the soft cushions and glanced around the room. Eventually, her eyes landed on Pabuma, who was sleeping soundly in front of the fireplace. His entire body was wrapped in blankets, except for his tiny black nose sticking out in the front. Kitty gave a small smirk, and laid her head against the couch. She didn't need any prizes. Everything she could ever need was right in front of her.