Dreaming of Adventure: Part Three
R amona, Stevie, Stacie and Sweet had over to a sitting area in front of a roaring fire. Sweet was entertaining Stevie and Stacie with hand shadows on the wall. Stevie trumpeted with laughter and Stacie fluttered her wings with delight. They only stopped when Ramona couldn’t keep from pacing, breaking the firelight’s flickering shadows. Sweet rose to her feet and stood in Ramona’s path.
“Hey, this isn’t helping. What will help is entertaining Stevie and Stacie. You know them better than I do. What do they like?” Sweet tilted her head in the direction of the two babies.
The brown Kacheek looked at Stevie and Stacie sitting on the couch. They both looked back at her with good-natured smiles. She felt a tug at her heart. She couldn’t help Jace and Ellie. She could help Stevie and Stacie.
“Of course I know what you guys like!” Ramona said.
The brown Kacheek sat between Stevie and Stacie and read them a book with the rather fitting title of Fireplace Tales. All three of them were fully engaged in the book. Sweet was relieved to see this. She hated to see anyone distressed. She now had a moment to herself to wonder how her brother was doing.
~ ~ ~
The Yurble had come to a frozen pond with Neopets skating on it. When someone came close to the bank he would call out to them. Plenty said they had seen a baby Acara and baby Korbat earlier that day but did not see where they went. Halfway around, he stopped at a hot chocolate vendor. The chocolate Zafara remembered the babies.
“They were talking about visiting the Snowager at the Ice Caves,” the Zafara said with a frown.
Horrified, Sweet’s brother raced on, hoping that he wasn’t too late.
~ ~ ~
“Hey, why’d you throw a snowball at me?” Jace whirled on Ellie, snow dripping from his blue fur.
“I didn’t do it!” Ellie denied hotly, indignant at the false accusation.
Before Jace could respond, they were surrounded by flying snowballs. The two friends raced for shelter to find themselves huddling with a small group of Neopets. They had walked right into the middle of a snowball fight! Without missing a beat, they joined right in. Though, their enthusiastic efforts were quickly stifled.
“You’re not strong enough to throw far and too small to see any of our targets. Not to mention, your aim is terrible. Here, just help me make snowballs,” a pirate Kyrii said.
“Great, someone’s trying to tell us what to do,” Jace grumbled.
“Shut up, Jace! This is their game. Don’t you hate it when someone tries to ruin one of our games?” Ellie shoved Jace-still a little peeved about him accusing her before-then handed a lumpy snowball to the pirate Kyrii.
“No bickering is allowed here. We’re on the same side. We need to get along,” the Kyrii said.
Jace eyed the Kyrii skeptically. “You’re a pirate. What do you know about getting along?”
“Jace has a point. Our friend Cairo says that pirates re mean and treach-treacle-treatie…a big word that I forget,” Ellie said, wrinkling her nose.
“Treacherous? Yeah, pirates are that. Your friend Cairo sounds like he knows what he’s talking about,” the Kyrii said.
Jace nodded. “Yup, he does. He’s even fought pirates before.”
“Well, it was actually someone who saw the best in me that taught me that I could be better than a high seas plunderer. Lofty has fought pirates too and he doesn’t like them at all. Yet, he saw something in me that even I didn’t see. No one could have a better friend than he’s been to me.”
“Lofty’s been mentioned again,” Ellie hissed to Jace.
“He sounds just like Cairo,” Jace said.
“How crazy is that?”
Their conversation was lost in the victory cry that had suddenly rung out on their side. Evidently, they had won the snowball fight. Jace was no longer disappointed he hadn’t had a bigger part to play. Both he and Ellie were curious to learn more about this Lofty character they kept hearing about. Unfortunately, when they looked for the pirate Kyrii, he had already gone.
~ ~ ~
After finishing Fireplace Tales, Sweet told them of her early life since she had not been raised on Terror Mountain.
“I wouldn’t mind being in a place where I could eat everything,” Stevie said.
Sweet couldn’t help but chuckle at the baby Elephante. Stacie was sitting on her lap, listening intently.
“Where you grew up sounds fun. Terror Mountain is fun. Though…I would love to know what rain is like,” Stacie said.
“Snow is a lot of fun but rain is too,” Sweet said.
“Neopia is such a big place. I’d like to visit the places that I’ve only seen in dreams.”
“I felt exactly the same way when I was a child, Stacie.”
“You don’t think my dreams are stupid?”
“No, your dreams are not stupid.”
Stacie snuggled Sweet, pleased. Ramona smiled at the older Shoyru.
“Thank you, Sweet. For this. I would have been completely overwhelmed to do this alone. Having someone here is exactly what I needed. Not to mention, Stacie needs a role model like you in her life. She is a reserved child and doesn’t open up to others readily. It amazes me that she is so comfortable with you so quickly. Then you don’t discourage her or push her away but just the opposite.”
Sweet hugged the now sleeping baby close for a moment. “I meant every word. I know exactly how she feels. I was always dreaming of the greater Neopia.”
“At least you waited until you were an adult to leave home.”
“Jace and Ellie are children. From what you’ve told me about Cairo, he filled them with the idea of adventure. As the adult in the situation, he should have realized the consequences of his actions.”
“Do you know how difficult it is to keep four children with completely different interests entertained? Cairo was helping me the only way he knew how.”
“I don’t know the first thing about children. I do, however, know how to be a friend. Friends help friends and support them no matter what. They don’t leave them in a fix like Cairo did you!”
Sweet stopped, realizing that she had raised her voice. She was starting to feel the strain of waiting. She couldn’t help wondering what was taking so long. Surely Jace and Ellie should have been found by now? They couldn’t have wandered that far away?
Oh, brother, where are you?
~ ~ ~
The Yurble had headed straight to the Ice Caves. He paused in the entrance, hoping to pick out the small forms of a baby Acara and Korbat. Unfortunately, they were nowhere in sight. Enough time had been lost. To start a thorough search, Sweet’s brother knew exactly where he had to go.
The Snowager’s Cave.
~ ~ ~
Jace and Ellie were getting hungry. They hadn’t eaten for a while. Hot chocolate was hardly filling. So, with rumbling bellies it was hardly surprising that they found themselves in the Neggery. They had never seen so many Neggs!
“What do you think you two are doing?”
Jace and Ellie froze, a Negg in each of their hands. Kari, the Negg Faerie, had arrived on the scene.
“We were hungry,” Jace said.
“We haven’t eaten in ages!” Ellie exclaimed.
“So that means it’s alright for you to just help yourselves to someone else’s food? At any rate, you certainly don’t want those,” Kari said, removing the Witchy Negg and Wicked Negg from the ignorant babies.
Instead, the Negg Faerie gave them each a Happy Negg. Wondering exactly how these unsupervised children had found their way to her, Kari gently questioned them. Eager to share, they told the faerie everything. She couldn’t stop herself from tensing at their foolish quest to visit the Snowager. Some friend Cairo had been to tell these impressionable children such stories.
“I’ve never heard of this Cairo you speak of. I have no experience with the Snowager myself. However, a good friend of mine says that the Snowager is not to be trifled with. This isn’t a game. You do know that, don’t you?” Kari looked at both Jace and Ellie, a little sternly.
Jace sighed, “I guess you’re right.”
Ellie looked thoughtful. “This friend of yours wouldn’t happen to be named Lofty, now would he?”
“Yes, his name is Lofty,” Kari said.
“Everybody’s talking about him today!” Jace exclaimed.
“Well, he happens to be very popular here on the mountain. He’s always love it here, even after traveling all of Neopia. He moved here permanently a couple years ago. He can and does make friends with just about anyone.”
“What else can you tell us about him?” Ellie looked eagerly at the Negg Faerie, wondering if Lofty’s stories would continue to mirror Cairo’s.
“Well, I can tell you that he has met Faerie Queen Fyora as well as other nobles. Early on, he was blessed by the faeries and fire faeries in particular have quite a fondness for Lofty.”
“Cairo’s never mentioned faeries in his stories,” Jace said, nudging Ellie with his elbow.
The baby Korbat shook her head, “Nope, he hasn’t. I would have remembered that.”
Kari smiled fondly. “Well, that isn’t common knowledge. Only the faeries, Lofty’s family and closest friends know that about him. Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I must get back to work.”
“Thank you,” the babies chorused as they left the Neggery.
Kari shook her head, half amused and half concerned, turned to her assistant Zaira, gave her a few instructions and then returned to work.
To be continued…