Masquerade: Part Two
Also by bookworm7
As I stepped back into the chill of the Ice Caverns, I spotted Yuruyuki fleeing from the Snowager's cave in the distance. We had gone through this several times before. "Did you get my avatar?" I shouted.
"Not yet," Yuruyuki replied with fear in her voice, "but something is wrong!" She flapped her wings awkwardly as she slipped her way down the icy slopes of the caverns. Suddenly, the Snowager appeared behind her, enraged and chasing her at full speed!
Zaira quickly exclaimed, "The Snowager has never left his treasure room before! What have you done?" It was true. I had no idea why the Snowager had left his cave, but I was more worried about how we would stop him.
Zaira stepped forward and held her hands out in front of her. I looked at her and saw that the object she had grabbed off of her desk was a negg. Zaira grabbed its leaves in her free hand and pulled. To my astonishment, the negg suddenly stretched and re-solidified into a magnificent, wooden blade. She stood firmly in front of the Neggery, ready to protect it from the massive monster charging at it.
I looked back at the Snowager. "Yuruyuki, don't bring him this way!" I shouted, but my plea was too late. She had too much momentum on the ice to turn away. As she slid down the icy ramps, the Snowager slithered his way behind her and came directly towards us. After Yuruyuki had fled past us and reached the doors of the Neggery, the Snowager with dexterity halted his motion and took in an icy breath in preparation to blast us. I quickly ran back towards the Neggery doors for safety.
"You shall not destroy this place!" Zaira tried her best to seem confident in her battling abilities, but I could tell from her quaking body that she was physically incapable of fighting. Seemingly in defeat, she twirled her sword and it reconfigured itself into a shield.
The Snowager let out an icy roar! I looked away from the scene and hoped that Zaira's shield could withstand the imminent icy blast. After a brief moment, though, I heard the Snowager begin to cough. I looked up at him in shock; nothing had happened. The Snowager took in another icy breath, but when he roared nothing came out of his mouth! He began to cough and choke on ice in his throat miserably. Zaira stood behind her shield, paralyzed with fear.
"He can still bring this place down with brute force!" I shouted as I ran towards Zaira. "We need to get out of these caves before the Snowager attacks us with inertia!"
Yuruyuki quickly came up behind us and pushed us down the icy slopes towards Happy Valley. As I slid down the ice and out of the caverns, I heard the Snowager burst out an indignant roar of confusion. His voice echoed off the cavern walls as we quickly slid into the light of the sun and away from the treacherous caves behind us.
My feet sank deeply into the snow at the bottom of the sloping cliff. I clambered off of the icy wall and grabbed Zaira by the arm. She yelled in reply, "What have you two done? He's about to destroy my home! Let me back! Let me go!" She struggled towards the caverns, but the snow was too deep for her to make a strong enough escape effort.
Zaira tugged her arm in an attempt to release my grip. "Zaira, if you worry about your home so much, then why do you not care enough about the possible destruction of Neopia—everyone's home?" I pulled back, and she gave up her struggle.
"How can you show up to my door, interrogate me, and then somehow be the first ones to be hated enough by the Snowager to actually drag him away from his entire stash of treasure? What did you do that he would sacrifice thousands of untold treasures for?"
"The Snowager is no longer a threat to us," said Yuruyuki calmly, "or the Neggery. I have something you need to see, Sin!"
Ignoring Zaira's questioning, Yuruyuki and I began walking towards the nearby Slushie Shop for a place to dry of and settle the nerves. Zaira seemed reluctant to follow us, but she knew she had to follow us for answers. I'm glad we dragged her into this, because I was in turn trying to pry some answers out of her.
Yuruyuki then pulled a negg out from underneath her feathers. She held out to us a near-invisible crystal negg that was smooth and without blemish. "The Glass Negg!" I exclaimed in awe. "How did you come across it?"
"The Snowager was protecting it. I think that the Glass Negg is what gives him his icy breath."
Zaira's eyes widened. "No, that can't be possible! The Glass Negg's power couldn't have been used by the Snowager without intervention from the Clockwork Negg!"
I gave Zaira the ugliest look that I could muster. "You have much to tell us, don't you?" She was at a loss of words, so we climbed up the stairs to the Slushie Shop and sat at a table inside.
Yuruyuki was excited to tell us what had happened. "Well, you see," she began hurriedly, "I went right up to the Snowager's head to try and taunt a big enough blast out of him for the avatar. When he breathed in his sleep, though, I saw something shining from inside his mouth. I thought that maybe it was his tongue and that if I grabbed it he would blast me to Kreludor!"
"But it was in fact the Glass Negg inside his mouth?" I questioned.
Zaira tapped the table and demanded attention. "The Snowager has been terrorizing Terror Mountain with his icy breath for hundreds of years! Plus, the journal specifically stated that the Glass Negg was going to Brightvale. How could it have ended up in the Snowager's possession so long ago?"
"Zaira, it is an interesting point that you would be the one to bring up the journal. I am assuming you have some journal entries that you have kept hidden?" I gave her a disapproving look. There was certainly information that she had removed from the journal before revealing it to Neopia during the Festival of Neggs.
She returned my look to me while removing the journal from her apron. "I have only hidden the very first entry, but it was to maintain a peaceful and ordered public!"
I rudely replied, "This 'peace' that you were looking for has come to Neopia, but it will not last long." She handed me the journal. When I opened the cover, there laid the very first journal entry. A terrified Zaira had ripped its pages out of the book upon its discovery, but it had been re-taped into the book after the public had finished analyzing the remaining journal entries. I began to read the journal entry aloud.
"We have been given the perilous task of hiding the fate of Neopia. It will be tough to determine the bearer of the Clockwork Negg, especially since we have been told that it contains so much influence over the mind. Luckily, only one will suffer since the powers of the decoy neggs that we have been given are worthless when taken out of the presence of their ruler, the Clockwork Negg." I glanced up from the journal.
Zaira looked at me with a dignified smile. "See? I told you that there was very little to worry about. The decoy neggs may posses power..."
"Yeah, the deadly blasting kind," said Yuruyuki under her breath.
"...but that power cannot be used to its fullest extent now that the Clockwork Negg has been opened and the Neggbreaker defeated."
"Don't you understand, Zaira? That was only the beginning of our problems! A king is powerless without an army. Don't you see that the Clockwork Negg was just the initiator of a stronger force?" Zaira and I glared at each other. Why wasn't I getting through to her? She had seen for herself that the Glass Negg was what gave the Snowager his terrorizing powers, yet she dismissed the fact that the decoy neggs were a serious threat to Neopia without a second thought. I was already losing my patience with her. The back of my neck began itching for some odd reason.
Yuruyuki changed the subject on us. "Speaking of kings, isn't there one we should be talking to about the Glass Negg?"
Zaira nodded in an attempt to soften my anger towards her. "That's right. We need to figure out what happened to Hurok." She looked back at me and took a deep breath. "By hiding the first entry, I caused Neopia to unite against the root of the threat. Only the loose ends remain." She stood up from the table. Yuruyuki and I did the same, and we left the Slushie Shop in silence.
This gave me the opportunity to read and ponder upon the discreet words of Rutu's first journal entry. How can the decoy neggs be "worthless" without the Clockwork Negg if they still contain usable powers on their own? We began our journey by heading off to Brightvale to discuss the situation with a certain king...
To be continued...