There have been stories told since the beginning of time about the monsters that dwell within the Ice Caves. These monsters are said to be guarding the treasures of past explorers; stolen treasures. These treasures must be carefully retrieved from the monsters so that the legacy of fallen explorers will not be forgotten. What then happens if the "monster's" legacy is in turn forgotten? There is a piece missing from the Ice Caves puzzle, and this is the ignored view from the deemed monsters themselves.
A bitter wind rolled through the mountains as the entrance to the Ice Caves began to show through the rough sheets of ice. This was her moment. After weeks of charting out the sleeping patterns of the beast within, Hannah was ready to make her move towards the treasures ever so guarded by the fearsome Snowager. A dangerous task for anyone to attempt, but Hannah felt she could muster up enough stealth to make it in and out without disturbing the beast. She was looking for something that was stolen by the beast a long time ago; a pocket watch owned by her grandfather who mysteriously went missing after one of his explorations in the Ice Caves. Hannah had been told the stories regarding the Snowager and knew that her grandfather's pocket watch would have been the ideal item for the beast to steal. Determined, she entered the Ice Caves. An icy cold wind greeted her, far colder than the winds she had often experienced on the mountains. A shiver ran down her spine as she tightly pulled her jacket closer to her body and moved forwards. Teeth chattering, she sighted the dark cavern above, which she knew housed the fearsome Snowager; The beast she sought.
She slowly made her way through the icy caverns towards the lair of the Snowager. As she had predicted, he was asleep, wrapped tightly around his mounds of treasure, the stolen treasures. She inched forwards, closer and closer to the beast... just a few more steps and she would be able to reach the treasure pile...
Like a gun shot, the Snowager awoke and shot ice pellets into the blackness of the cavern. Hannah, crushed against the side barely dodged the shards as she ducked behind the beast.
Deciding that his treasures were safe, the Snowager rested his head back down and fell asleep once more.
Hannah was just about to inch back towards the entrance of the cavern, deciding to return another day when she noticed a small journal near the edge of the treasure pile. Hannah stopped for a moment to examine the journal. It was definitely old, slightly frozen, and frozen in a few places but for some strange reason, she was drawn towards it. She leant down and grabbed the journal quickly and clasped it tightly against her jacket as she darted towards the exit, making her way back into the icy caves.
Once she had safely returned to her warm cabin, she held out the journal to get a better look at what exactly she had grabbed. The journal seemed to be missing a few pages, and had large, messy scribbles which were almost illegible. Once she had deciphered the way in which the words were written, she began to read the contents of the tattered journal:
...It seems like an odd custom, giving treasure in exchange for luck. Luck which I'm not even sure I know how to give! But these foreigners seem certain that I shall grant them luck if they leave their most prized possessions in my cavern. I'll do my best to watch over them until their safe return from the Icy Caverns below, but as far as I can tell, the weather will be too cold for them to make both trips successfully. How I wish I could speak their language, warn them of the harsh winds that await them... if only they would listen...
Hannah was puzzled by the first entry. Who could this have possibly belonged to? Why would the Snowager steal this book? It must have some sort of value! She turned her attention back to the journal and made an attempt to read a passage further on:
...It has been so long since those explorers first made their journey to me. I fear that they will never return for their possessions, but I will still continue to watch over them. They trusted me; I don't want to betray that...
Hannah turned the page and continued to read a different entry:
...Times are changing. I have had to move my cavern for fear of being enclosed by the constant development of the Ice Caves. My old cavern has been taken over by a team of Polarchucks. They make a game out of eating a wide palette of coloured snow. I tried to befriend them, to join in even, but they ran away from me; scared. They are surrounded now, always, by a large amount of people. The people help them with their game, and are even rewarded for doing so. I think they brought them in to make sure I don't come around anymore. I haven't, I have since moved my cavern across the Ice Caves so that I would remain out of sight; alone...
Entranced, Hannah turned another page:
...My new cavern has been found and the collection of items left in my protection seems to be forever thinning. Not a day goes by where I do not wake up to find someone trying to steal from me; thieves. At first I thought it might be the foreign explorers finally returning for their items; I was wrong. I woke up one evening and there was someone with me in my cavern! Scared, I shot ice shards at them, defending my collection. The face that looked back at me was that of an innocent nature. They were young, and now injured. They ran away, probably fearing for their life... I feel like a monster...
The next few pages were frozen together. Much like the pages, Hannah remained frozen in her seat. She knew who the journal belonged to, a misunderstood monster. She read an entry closer to the end of the book:
...I am still waiting... guarding... they will come back one day...
Hannah closed the journal. She could not bear to read it any longer. Instead, she pulled on her jacket, and left once more for the icy caverns.
The Snowager was exactly where he had been earlier, sleeping, guarding. Hannah cautiously placed the journal back in its rightful place and turned towards the entrance of the cavern.
The Snowager was awake and looking straight at her.
Hannah instinctively gasped but the Snowager made no attempt to attack her. There were no flying shards of ice, he just stared at her; curious.
Hannah carefully reached into her jacket pocket, her eyes never leaving the icy stare of the Snowager. She pulled out a small, warn picture of an old man. The man appeared to be laughing at some forgotten joke that was told, but shining in his right hand was a beautiful pocket watch. Hannah placed the picture on the icy ground in front of the Snowager.
The Snowager's stare moved slowly from Hannah to the picture in front of him. A look of sadness crossed his features but he did not speak, he simply leaned back towards his pile of treasures and moments later produced the same pocket watch that was held by the man in the picture.
The same look of sadness crossed Hannah's features as she clasped the pocket watch in close to her heart. As tears began to form in her eyes she glanced up at the Snowager.
"He didn't come back." She choked.
At once, the Snowager understood, and together they shared a moment for what seemed like not only her grandfather, but all of the other fallen explorers.
Hannah left the Snowager shortly after. She never again tried to steal from the misunderstood monster.