Moltara's Winter: Part Two
Also by saltsman
The way back home was every bit as different. Jon forced himself to keep on walking, even though everything he wanted to was sit and cry. He had no idea why he didn't turn Magma. Everyone who jumped in did. He feared this was yet another refusal. Somehow, Moltara didn't want him the same way he wanted it. Those looming fears stroke his heart once again and despair and loneliness kicked in. Even with Paul and Sarah trying hard to cheer him up, he felt empty inside.
When he got home, away from his best friends, he finally allowed himself to bellow, put it all out and have the tantrum he was containing all along.
"Why did that happen to me, mom?" he shouted. "What have I ever done to deserve this much suffering?"
"Sweetie, it is not your fault." His mom hugged him. "It is not. Maybe the whole place is jinxed in some way, I don't know."
"You're telling me lies!" He tried to break himself free from Jenna's embrace. "You heard the guard. I'm not a true Moltaran, I don't belong in here!"
"Jon, listen to me." His father was standing next to him. "You belong with us. And this is your home as much as it is ours. We came from Neopia as well, remember? The pool didn't reject us! There's something wrong going on here, and we're going to fix it."
"Are we, Dad?" Whenever he got too mad, Jon turned to sarcasm to try and shield himself from pain. "Do tell me how we are ever going to do that!"
"Hey, don't lash out on your dad," Jenna warned him. "This is no one's fault, especially not ours." She stroke his head.
"Well, Mom, I beg to disagree. Had you taken me there sooner, maybe it would have worked. But no, you had to wait for no reason at all! You had to punish me!"
He finally thrashed himself free and ran to his bedroom. Locking the door, he crammed himself beneath the layers of blankets and cried himself to sleep.
When he woke up, night had already fallen. Feeling embarrassed, he ran out of his bedroom to apologize for his childish and overall ungrateful behavior, but his parents were nowhere to be found. He checked their bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom, but didn't find them anywhere. The only place left to check was the dungeon, but he saw no reason for them to be down there. When he opened the door, a sweeping chilly breeze flustered him and made him dizzy. The dungeon was literally freezing. The walls were covered by a moss-like ice layer that sparkled. He ventured one step down the stairs, but he felt his legs starting to freeze. The steps, also covered in ice, felt so wintry to the touch it threatened to burn Jon. He instantly jumped out of there and closed the door.
"MOM! DAD!" Fear was dominating him. Why was the dungeon frozen? Things don't freeze in Moltara. Not here. The place was completely absent from the likes of seasonal weather. "MOM! WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?"
Afraid and with nothing else to do, he ran outside and across the street to enlist Luna's help. He slammed his fist on the door so strongly that his hand hurt.
"Jon?" Luna's eyes were engorged. "What's going on?"
"My parents disappeared!"
"What?" She sounded high-pitched.
"They simply disappeared! I woke up and they were nowhere to be found. And besides, the dungeon... It is freezing!"
"What do you mean by that?" she scoffed.
"The dungeon, it is completely covered in ice, like there was a snow storm in there. I don't know, Luna... But I'm worried and I need your help."
"Come on in, we'll think this through."
She closed the door behind him. Sarah came running into the living room.
"Thought I heard your voice, Jon!" She smiled.
"Sweetheart, can you go on the bedroom and get me everything we bought for that Terror Mountain tour we went to last year?"
"You mean coats?" she asked, bewildered.
"Why do we need coats?" Jon asked.
"Well, if your dungeon's frozen we need to go down there and see what caused it. Most likely we'll be needing coats."
"Yeah, you're right. Luna, would you mind checking your own dungeon?" Jon had this feeling that the weird occurrence was not a random event or anything of the like. His intuition was telling him that there was more to the story.
First the cold lava, now icy walls. Definitely there was more. He wanted badly to find his parents and apologize. They were right all along. Something needed to be fixed.
"Oh my!" Luna exclaimed.
Sarah and Paul came running into the room.
"What?" they asked in unison.
"The dungeon's frozen!"
Jon approached. It looked just like his house's dungeon.
"Cool!" Paul tried to run in, but his mom blocked his way.
"Oi! You're not going there." She smirked. "The same thing's happened to Jon's house, and his parents are missing. We have no idea what's going on, so, for now, let's try and stay away from this mysterious blossoming snow, ok?"
"Get me the coats," Jon demanded.
"What are you going to do?" Luna inquired.
"I'm going down my house's dungeon to see if my parents are down there."
"You're not going! Jon, don't you see that we have no idea what this is? You'll be getting yourself into trouble."
"Luna, I appreciate your concern, but I need to do it."
He dressed himself in fur, sweatpants and Snowager-shaped slippers. He went back to his house with Luna, Sarah and Paul on his trail. To his surprise, some small parts of the tiles were already icy-white. The freezing process was slowly progressing. He opened the door once again, and the breeze now felt like a tornado of chills. He looked back to his friends once more.
"Wish me luck..."
"I want to go down with him!" Paul protested.
"Yeah, but you're not!" Luna held him steady.
On the fifth step, Jon started shaking so violently that he lost balance and fell. Rolling down the flight of steps, he ended up face down on the ice block that used to be a magma rock. However, when he tried to stand up, he couldn't. His entire body was glued to the surface, and the ice started to grow on top of his body, sealing him to the stone.
"Help!" he pleaded.
His neck was the only part of his body he could still move. He looked left and had a horrifying surprise: his parents' freezing statues, beneath one of the pipes. They were both looking up the minute they froze, and Jon noticed that pipes were parted halfway. From there, steam was oozing. He thrashed against the rock, but it was no use. The ice wouldn't give way and there was no way of breaking free.
Suddenly, Jon felt something break through frost, enough to set him free. It was Paul, holding an Obsidian dagger. Both of them raced upstairs and locked the door behind them. Luna was looking flabbergasted and breathless.
"I wasn't about to let my friend freeze to death, Mom!"
"I saw them." Tears were once again rolling down Jon's face. This was definitely the worst birthday ever. "My parents. They froze."
"Did you see anything else?"
"Yeah. The pipes. It's in the pipe. It is this very dense smoke. If it's gotten to the city's piping system it'll probably hit all houses."
Sarah came running from the kitchen, panting.
"It's on the kitchen floor, guys! It's contaminating everything and freezing the entire house!" she shrieked.
"What if..." Jon began, but kept quiet.
"What if what?" Luna demanded.
"It was so cold down on the dungeon that everyone who stays there for more than thirty seconds freezes. What if everything becomes the dungeon?"
Luna still couldn't put the pieces together.
"It's not just freezing..."
"What do you mean?" Sarah asked.
"This isn't ice," he concluded.
"Well, if it isn't ice, what else could it be?" Luna was puzzled.
"Look, when I fell into that iceberg, I just didn't feel shivery... It was different. It was like something alive was eating me."
"Like a... Monster?" Sarah joked.
"Exactly. I felt it creeping up on me... It was very uncanny."
"Well... At least we know what defeats it," Paul picked up the Obsidian dagger from the floor. "I used this to break through and it seemed to melt. I agree that this is not your regular ice."
"That's a start." Luna scratched her forehead. "Jon, look to me," she said. "Don't worry, we're going to bring your parents back, alright?"
"I would like to know how." The emptiness on his chest had hit major levels.
"If we don't stop this, and our remarks are correct, we're all going to freeze to death." Paul sighed unhappily.
"We have some clues, now we dig it up. Whatever it is that is assaulting Moltara, we have to stop before it kills us all," Luna said.
"And how do you plan on doing that, mom?" Sarah held her hand. "Because whatever you say, I'm with you."
"I plan on finding out what we're dealing with. And then burn it to the ground."
To be continued...